HomeUncategorizedZHU Finds Inspiration Through Introspection In New Album, "GRACE"

ZHU Finds Inspiration Through Introspection In New Album, "GRACE"


10 years ago, the dance music world gave rise to a talent shrouded deep in mystery and broody productions. He would go by the moniker ZHU, and as a true testament to his electronic prowess, he quickly earned himself a Grammy nomination with his chart-topping debut single, “Faded.”

Throughout the decade, the San Francisco native would hone his sound, from the elemental tones of 2016’s Generationwhy to the forward-thinking soundscapes found in 2021’s Dreamland. Through star-studded collaborations and driving synths, he advanced his craft, with the future always at the bullseye of his target.

However, for his next project, ZHU returned to the city by the Bay hoping for inspiration through introspection. And so, with his feet back on San Francisco soil, he tapped into his past, manifesting a bevy of melancholic melodies collectively christened as GRACE.

Born out of the hallowed halls of the city’s renowned Grace Cathedral, the aptly titled album reveals ZHU’s pilgrimage from darkness to light. A deviation from his dancefloor-ready past, GRACE forces us to step into the mind of the virtuosic producer and follow along in his crusade.

The Nob Hill sanctuary where the 21 tracks were recorded unearthed an array of emotions from ZHU, resulting in a vulnerable effort. Themes such as confusion, anguish, yearning and insecurity can be found throughout the two-disc album.

ZHU.

Henry Ammann

Sonically, GRACE is cohesive, keeping course with bass and synth-heavy productions paired with ZHU’s signature sultry, breathy vocals. However, the contemplative journey does take surprising deviations along the way, toying with different elements from across the music spectrum.

In “Praise,” for example, guitar stings tatalize while BANKS serenades us into an unexpected, spitfire rap alongside ZHU and bludnymph. Hip-hop beats can also be found in “Devil’s Prescription” and “Blind Believer” (with Rea Cragun and Rexx Life Raj).

Grimy, industrial productions are embraced in “Rolling” (with The Bloody Beetroots) and “Days Before Grace.” Meanwhile, rock-inspired characteristics are prominently displayed in “Villain,” “Love Is Strong” and “Thrill Again” (with UPSAHL).

However, the best use of these hidden genres is in “Dragonfruit,” where ZHU teams up with Emotional Oranges for a passionate, piano-driven gem. Here we find a surprisingly delightful exploration of drum & bass over a seductive lyric.

The final standout on GRACE is its latest single, “Settle For Less,” featuring Sabrina Claudio. Leading with a string of haunting keys over Claudio’s soothing vocals, the cut crashes into a swell of rhythmic percussion as ZHU’s notes join in midway. The record is then sealed with a kiss as a sultry saxophone sends us off.

ZHU’s excursion back to his hometown resulted in nearly two dozen tracks united by dark tones and minimalistic melodies. A compelling departure from his prior projects, GRACE is an artistic endeavor ZHU needed to pursue as he immersed himself in a spiritual realm surrounded by the stained glass windows and marble columns of the Grace Cathedral. 

Listen to the full album below and find it on streaming platforms here.

Follow ZHU:

Facebook: facebook.com/zhu
X: x.com/zhumusic
Instagram: instagram.com/zhu
Spotify: spoti.fi/391vjDR





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