Lost & Found: Rosie Vela - Zazu

Music student Rosie Vela seemed to work on the basis that a moving target is hardest to hit, so gave up her pop career after just one album… but what an album it was.

Already in her 30s before she signed her only recording contract, Vela had a decade of modelling behind her after graduating in music and art from the University of Arkansas.

A big personality, Vela secured the services of both ex-Steely Dan protagonists Walter Becker and Donald Fagen – her musical heroes – by hiring their former producer Gary Katz to make the album.

The self-penned Zazu is a sublime listen. Clever, smooth, sensuous and, on the coded hit single Magic Smile, marvellously filthy at times. Vela’s suggestively deep voice is immense on mid-tempo tracks like Taxi, Boxs and Interlude, while 2nd Emotion is an edifying, upbeat pop mover. Opener Fools Paradise is a bright, rolling bit of synth rock and the closing title track, dramatic and final. The melodies feel freewheeled at times – it’s hard to imagine sheet music being used – but this is nothing but beneficial.

The album went Silver in the UK and reached the Top 20, although only Magic Smile took the enigmatic Vela into the limelight. She reportedly abandoned a second album and embarked on a third career in acting.

Written by Matthew Rudd

Read more: Lost & Found: Midge Ure – The Gift