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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Zan Zone

It’s Only Natural

Review by Gary Hill

I can hear the conversation now. “What kind of a band do you want to put together?” “I would love to play jazz.” “Well, I want a blues rock band.” “I want to play some alternative rock.” “Hey, let’s do it all at once.” That seems like it might have been how this band started. From using both male and female (the majority of the time) vocals to never seeming to settle on a specific sound, this band seems to be all over the place. The thing is, it works well. If variety is the spice of life, then this act is about as lively as you get.

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Track by Track Review
For the Rising Sun
This rises upward with a cool, almost proggy texture. It grows out from there to a cool rocking jam that again retains some progressive rock in the mix. It shifts toward some jazz-like structures as it continues. This has some smoking hot guitar soloing. This instrumental is classy stuff.
It's Only Natural
I dig this blues-rock-based number. It has a catchy chorus and the backing vocals really bring a lot of magic to the proceedings. This has some cool changes and is especially effective.
Where There's Smoke
There are some killer guitar riffs built into this thing. It’s a powerhouse tune that has some funk and soul in the mix. This is so classy. I love the duet vocal performance. The female vocals remind me at times of Grace Slick. This number is definitely one of the highlights of the disc.
He's Coming Home
A slower tune, this is based on powerful female vocals and a bluesy groove. There is a lot of emotion and power here. I love the crunch on the guitar.
Here I Go Again
I dig the cool rock and roll sound on this number. The vocals bring a bit of an alternative rock vibe. That said, there are some hints of modern prog built into this piece of music. This is quite a dynamic piece and has some seriously soaring moments.
There is definitely a proggy edge to this cut, too. It has a lot of psychedelia built into it. The multi-layered vocal arrangement feels a bit like something out of the 1960s. There is a dreamy air to this piece.
Things That Make Me Cry
A great balladic number, the female vocals on this cut really have a lot of style. There is a jazzy element to this piece.
Dem Blues Is Bad
The first couple minutes of this feature a very simple arrangement – one guitar and one voice. After that the other instruments join to drive the blues home with a lot of style. Backing vocals later lend some jazz to the mix. This thing is extended and really shows how a simple song can be expanded into a long track without getting boring by just changing up the arrangement throughout.
Let It Go
There is an almost metal edge to the guitar that creates a lot of this sound. The track has a driving hard rock texture. The vocals bring a bit of a soulful edge to it. This is a powerhouse number that’s among my favorites here.
These Dreams
This makes me think of Neil Young to a large degree. It has mellower sections mixed with more rocking ones that call to mind Young’s work with Crazy Horse. This is fiery.
Champagne Enthusiasm
A jazz ballad concept is on display here. The arrangement gets filled out a bit as the song continues, but the concept remains largely unchanged.
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