Sunday, September 27, 2009

Zac Harmon Keeps Rocking His Roots

This is a slightly changed review that appeared in Jazz & Blues Report (Sept 2009- Issue 320).

Since winning the Blues Foundation’s International Blues Challenge, Zac Harman certainly has established himself on the blues circuit, becoming a favorite festival attraction with his hot guitar, varied repertoire and gospel-soul rooted vocals. Northern Blues has just issued From the Root, his third album and the first to be released under the Canadian imprint. The opening Don’t Give Me Another Reason, has some biting blues-rock guitar against a soulful vocal as he sings about his obsessive love for a woman who is a devil’s lil angel. It is followed by Hattie Mae, where Zac sings about his love for her against a melody that suggests an uptempo variant of You Don’t Love Me. Jimmy Z contributes some scorching harp here. Since You Been Gone, has a bit of a rock flavor with a nifty guitar riff with a lyric of not being burned twice by a woman who walked out on him but wants to come back. which is followed by a deep soul-blues groove on Back Bitin’ Back Stabbers, has a deep soul-blues groove for a song about being on the road and discovering that his wife and his best friend cheating on him. That’s What a Woman Needs, successfully uses a reggae groove before the soulful blues ballad The Price of Lovin’ You, a duet with Sueann Carwell. Honey Bee, has a hot groove up followed by a sensual ballad, Smile on Your Face, where Zac tells his woman he wants to place on their and that she should let him touch that special place. Insistent stinging guitar reinforces the driving groove on Enough, as Zac is fed up with his cheating woman and tells her to stop crying and to stop her ripping up Zac’s heart because “enough is enough.” The variety heard among the 14 tracks is illustrated by The Older Woman,” with its southern soul-blues juke groove and Scratch, with its echoes of Z.Z. Hill. Man is Not Alone, closes this on an acoustic note with Greg Wright supplying some nice slide guitar, Jimmy Z adding harp and Monyungo Jackson playing a steady rhythm on cajon. As indicated from my comments above, From the Root, is a varied program of blues and soul with rock edges that follows up his two earlier excellent self-produced releases. This may be easier to find than those (but try for them), and should further enhance his growing reputation as a blues performer today.

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