I have held off on this post for a few weeks due to giving the album a few listens prior to sending on the recommendation. Jeff is a great guy with some solid singer-songwriter chops, but you always have to make sure, sometimes new albums take a new path, some divert down side roads in which should never be traveled.
I put that introduction in as I do believe Zentner has taken an alternate route to his destination of small town America. I think it is a good one, so don’t get too worried! I first wrote of Jeff Zentner here prior to this album being released and now that it has arrived, I have been digging into it regularly. More on the arrival of the CD later, but let’s keep on with the music.
The new album is a deeper journey into the music than his previous work on “Hymns to the Darkness”. There is more experimenting with duets, more ambient texture mixed in with his acoustic leanings. Take one listen to “Where We Fall We’ll Lie” and you will know of what I speak. Zentner is bringing in a new facet of his performance – almost a fringe folk edge. Another aspect of note is production – there definitely seems to be more emphasis on making the album a beautifully dark and raw recording. When I say “raw” I mean something that just might take something out of you, this isn’t simply a sit down and sing your songs while we record them experience. I especially enjoy the inclusion of the mandolin, echoing banjo and increased overall atmosphere oozing from this recording . It is an album that needs all it’s parts though, every limb and piece of Zentner together in order to be appreciated. Sure there are stand alone tracks that are great (the title track for one), but each one lends to the entire package.
There is much more inclusion of the fairer sex this time around as well, including Katiejane Garside (from the above mentioned “Where We Fall We’ll Lie” of which she co-wrote) and the great Josie Little who performs on at least 4 other tracks. You even get Matt Bauer and Jay Foote on the lamenting “Night Jasmine” – one of my favourites. Overall, maybe it is the collaborative effort of this album that gives it a larger scope, or maybe I just really like dark Americana artists.
Well I mentioned above on the CD arrival for a reason and that reason is that I have a signed copy of the new album to provide to you good folks. In order to make it fairly easy, but take more than this post to figure out – the third person to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with the name of Jeff’s band that he plays in will get the personalized CD sent to you for your listening pleasure.
Enjoy a couple of tracks from the new album below – I also looking forward to hearing from you. I will post in the comments once the contest has been completed and the winner informed.
Visit Jeff Zentner on MySpace. Also check out a couple of posts from fellow blogger Laura on You Crazy Dreamers here & here.
Pick up a copy of “Hymns to the Darkness” or “The Dying Days of Summer” on CD Baby.