At one point I compared the music of Zenobia Dolli to good pussy. It was a tricky moment of online desperation I look back upon with a tinge of regret. Twitter in the age of Donald Trump. Be bold, be tacky, but don’t be silent. I wanted people to know, and to understand the power of her voice. Her music was ALL I had at one point that was not transactional. I was selling blood plasma and reading Philip K. Dick novels while nursing a 20 year old gambling addiction. There was something comforting and magical about the music from her Penthouse EP
When she sang, “You bring the weed, I’ll bring the juice. We’re getting further from our youth.
” It sent me back to a time before the dreams died. Tarantino had just burst upon the scene and we were all going to make it big. We were going to direct, write and make things happen. Over Camel cigarettes and Mexican brick weed, we encouraged each other. Like Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau in Swingers. “You look great baby, you’re still young.” Early twenties already feeling the pressure. Twenty five was old. You had to get something done by then. To my ears, Zenobia Dolli’s voice was a healer. I could dare to dream again. Her lyrics were the first that I scribbled down since — God — since I was a fucking teenager sending mix tapes to my cousin in Kansas.
My college gang loved us some Polly Jean Harvey. That’s how I became aware of Zenobia Dolli. Her cover of PJ’s “Shame” changed my life. “Shame is the shadow of love,” she sang, and with no effort at all I can hear Zenobia’s voice now. Husky and real. That one line has stuck with me for years! The rawness of the interpretation. It is the rare song performed by a new artist that you can effortlessly recall after hearing one time. From a 90’s “alternative nation” vantage point, who imagined a future where an artist could upload a video and anyone, anywhere in the world could dig it? And for it to actually be good? Shit, with the advent of the popular 2000’s internet, how many friends put earnest tunes out requiring work and the right adjectives to describe? “It’s good man! That faux cello sounds like champagne bro!” You don’t have to fake it with Dolli. She’s the real deal.
She moved on from “Shame”. Not the way those cute white boys moved on from their covers with millions of adoring, slobbering followers. She crafted tunes in solitude from her LA bungalow that don’t sound like the shit everybody else is doing. She could shake her ass, but she doesn’t have to. No offense to Beyonce, but can you imagine Nina Simone shaking her ass to sell a record? I didn’t think so. And even better, Ms. Dolli produces her own music, and has directed a number of her own videos. There are moments in her art that are transcendent. Check out the cold blooded chill of “Epic Canyons” before you get done wrong by a shitty lover, or wait until after and recognize every single word while revenge is being prepared.
The height of gonzo reality tv “realness” came when one of Flava Flav’s girls let us know that black girls don’t swim because their weaves are too expensive. When I saw Zenobia Dolli’s video for “Oceans
“, I wanted to cry because she gave us life. She swam in the “Oceans
” video before Simone Manuel
won a gold medal in Rio and when they put that medal around Simone’s neck I wept because they swam against the same current, said fuck you, and won. Fuck a damn weave.
When people mention the song, the band, the tape, the concert — the something that saved or changed a life, we respect that. I didn’t think I would ever have that experience again. I’m a washed up vet scoring a little disability loot; my drunken Facebook messages do not get answered. So damn, when it (THE FEELING) returned, courtesy of Zenobia Dolli, I didn’t know what the fuck to do with it. I was a teenager again losing his virginity, and I wanted to share it with the world. A chance at rebirth. Good pussy indeed.