“Irene” is the debut album from Izy (pronounced eye-zee), a Melbourne-based trio originally hailing from Cairns in Australia’s tropical North. A deeply mature album from a very young band, Irene is a 10 song collection of raw neo-soul grooves, rich vocal harmony and subtle jazz guitar. A stripped back, simple recording of a band killing it in a room. There’s a deep understanding of the canon of soul music on display here, with echoes of D’Angelo and Curtis Mayfield, but also a uniquely individual sensibility, rarely so clearly articulated on a debut record.
Deeply connected to their roots and their families, both the band and the album are named after Irene, Guitarist Ryo Montgomery’s paternal grandmother; an important source of support and comfort in the band’s formative years. Ryo, bassist Warrigo Tyrrell and drummer Maru Nitor Zamatarro each cut their teeth young, playing with their parents in three very different musical families. Ryo grew up shifting between his mother’s home in rural Japan and his father’s blues bar in Cairns where he watched legends of guitar ply their trade and did his first shows. Maru was playing guiro in his parent’s cumbia band Los Caracoles before he turned five. Warrigo grew up jamming on Shadows covers and Aboriginal protest rock with his fathers and brothers, members of the Kalkadoon and Waanyi nations. Heritage is important to Izy and they bring these musical and cultural influences together proudly.
So that’s Izy, humble and hard working Gen-Z virtuosos who love their grandmas, representing an optimistic post-colonial version of Australian identity and music. In their own words: “This album is a tangled culmination of interpersonal relationships; love, society and land. We three are super blessed to share stories and when we connect, we amplify and respond to each other, which makes it easy to create music and get our message across for our family and our community.”