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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Sandy Zio

All That I Am

Review by Gary Hill

Do you remember when soft rock and great songwriting with a strong voice dominated the airwaves? If you long for those days, then get this CD and feel like you are back there – at least for the duration. Sandy Zio has a voice that can deliver on virtually any type of track and here she dishes up a nice variety. Some of those songs were written by Zio while others are covers. She makes all of them her own, though. This is a great disc if you like solid song craft without a lot of gimmicks.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 2 at

Track by Track Review
All That I Am
The title track leads things off in a pretty balladic mode. Zio’s voice is right on the money, delivering a beautiful melody with emotion and conviction. This would probably best be described as “soft rock with a classic sound.” The track has a tasty guitar solo.

Sparkling Waters
As good as the opener was, I like this one even more. This is a bit mellower in some ways, but on the other hand the instrumentation and layered vocals add a different dimension. This reminds me quite a bit of Louise Goffin’s first couple discs, but I also hear just a hint of prog rock in the guitar work here.
Someone To Love
Here we get a shift of focus from guitar to piano. In some ways the overall musical theme isn’t that far different, but the piano definitely has more of a key role in this arrangement. It’s another strong tune on a disc that is full of them.  There is a tasteful string section on this piece and we get a piano solo for the mid-section.
Don't Stop Talking
It just keeps getting better. Here we get a rather jazzy, slightly funky rocker that’s very tasty. The vocals are even stronger here and this tune really gels quite well. There is another tasty guitar solo on this one.

Ever After
You knew it had to happen. The steady upward momentum couldn’t hold forever. This is just a bit of a let down, but that’s more about how strong “Don’t Stop Talking” was than anything to do with weakness on this cut. It’s a vaguely R & B-like mellow ballad.
We've Only Just Begun
This Carpenters song was one I always hated. The thing is, Zio’s arrangement actually turns this into an enjoyable song. It’s got a bit of a funk edge to it that works pretty well. I still get a bit of a cringe from this because I keep hearing the Carpenters, but it has nothing to do with Zio’s performance which is quite good.
Is It Too Late?
While the overall concept hasn’t drastically changed here, this is a great song. It’s a step up from the last couple and one of the stronger pieces on show here. Zio’s voice conveys a lot of emotion here.
Sister Madelene
Up tempo and fun, the jazz arrangement on this one steals the show. It’s the strongest piece we’ve heard so far and a real show stopper. The retro organ solo is a nice touch as is the meaty guitar solo that follows it.
When I Get Near You
While this one has a bit less energy and perhaps a little less pizzazz, the multilayered vocal arrangement and tasty guitar solo keep it from falling behind.
This ballad is quite powerful. It comes very close to hitting the realm of progressive rock. Everything is right where it should be on this tune and it’s my favorite number on the CD. We get some great jazz moments in this one, too.
Baby Baby
This one doesn’t do as much for me as some of the other material here. That said, there are a few magical moments.
Nearly pure jazz, this is light-hearted and fun. It’s gentle, yet energetic. While I wouldn’t consider it one of my favorites on the disc, it’s a nice one.
Questo Dolce Sogno
With lyrics in Spanish, this ballad doesn’t break any molds, but it’s pretty and solid nonetheless.
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