Before releasing his new album “Mutunga Dzese” that was unveiled last Friday, Leonard Zhakata said the new project would be a bridge between his old and new music styles, promising to bring back his yesteryear touch.
It was the musician’s sincere admission that most of his fans prefer old songs to the current beat that diverts from a style which made popular albums like “Maruva Enyika”, “Pakuyambuka”, “Vagoni Vebasa”, “Dzave Ndangariro” and “Udza Vamwe” among others.
Because of decreasing numbers at his shows, Zhakata promised to cross the bridge back to his heyday in attempt to win back the hearts of thousands of fans that used to throng his shows.
Most of his yesteryear fans looked forward to another fascinating dance with the Zora music master who is undoubtedly one of the best musicians to grace the local showbiz scene.
Although his previous albums “Gotwe” and “Zvangu Zvaita” had a fair share of appreciation, Zhakata seemed to admit that bringing in the old style would be a convincing bait.
Among thousands of fans that attended the launch of his album at Harare International Conference Centre last weekend were old followers that were lured by the musician’s promise.
Indeed the album was unveiled in style and fellow musicians celebrated with Zhakata.
“Mutunga Dzese” is now on the market yet Zhakata’s promise is still far from being fulfilled.
The album largely maintains the new style, which has become a preserve for die-hard Zora music fans. Those who loved “Gotwe” and “Zvangu Zvaita” will also enjoy “Mutunga Dzose”, but the release will hardly win back the hearts of old followers, let alone entice new appreciators.
Zhakata’s loyal fans will happily receive the album and find comfort in the musician’s lamenting verses that have become a binding factor in their community despite waning musical fortunes that clearly threaten the singer’s career.
Solace for old fans that were lured by Zhakata’s promise might be found in first track, “Zvine Mwaka”.
It might not immediately excite an over-expectant listener, but “Zvine Mwaka” has some attributes of the old Zhakata style. The musician begins the song with a deeper voice than his yesteryear vocals, but a refresher comes with change of beat in the third minute and a higher pitch with which the musician takes the subsequent verse.
The sing-along lines and celebratory “rovai mhururu nemiridzo” chants that seal the track make “Zvine Mwaka” a probable favourite with those looking for old style in “Mutunga Dzose” and a possible hit with general Zora fans.
A few other bits of the old style that Zhakata slips in towards the end of some of his songs do not make convincing evidence of his intention to bring back old style.
On an album with seven songs Zhakata could have done more to fulfill his promise and obviously excite his expectant yesteryear fans. He is still to cross the promised bridge.
However, away from the musician’s promises is another possible hit in party song titled “Madam Boss”.
The song features Suluman Chimbetu and Progress Chipfumo. It is danceable song that was produced by Oskid and has a potential of making it to nightclub and party playlists. It is not on a usual Zora style as it fuses some rhumba and house elements.
Unfortunately “Madam Boss” is one of those party songs that easily fade away, which makes it odd in Zhakata’s discography that is known for timeless compositions.
The musician brings in township jazz style on the last track “Kuzvarwa Kwemutumwa”, which is probably a highlight of Zhakata’s intended future style. The musician hinted on giving people a taste of his future beat.
The other songs “Wauya Nei”, “Moyo Wekutenda”, “Mutunga Dzese” and “Tsvimbo Dzehumambo” are in the bracket of the current Zora style.
On these songs Zhakata’s lyrics revolve around social issues, Biblical references and his traditional lamenting verses that portray a man in a hard situation, clinging on hope and calling for deliverance.
“Mutunga Dzose” is in the same class with “Zvangu Zvaita” and will keep Zhakata’s current slow momentum with endorsement from loyal Zora fans, but it is far from what the musician had promised. Maybe he will fulfil his promise in upcoming songs