Friday, January 15, 2016

The Importance of Framework - Backbone by Zachariah Red: The E2TG Review

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The backbone is  literally part of the skeleton or framework of the body. A carpenter by trade, Zachariah Red, knows about the importance of framework.  On his aptly titled new album, Backbone, he frames the album with a solid mix of Midwestern County, heartland rock and roll, and solid songwriting skills that he has sharpened to a fine point during his time in East Nashville.

As an album, Backbone features the aforementioned strong songwriting, along with  effective production and solid supporting players.  On “Let You Down”, a piano and solid background vocals from red hot Nashville singer-songwriter Lindsay Ellyn builds upon the framework of the song creating an emotionally powerful statement. Neither Zachariah Red nor Lindsay Ellyn are from the South, but this is more pure country music than anything being made on the border between Georgia and Florida.

“My City” is a rocker that brings to mind Springsteen and Mellencamp.  The wall of sound production ( the album was engineered by Zack Zink and produced by Taylor Alexander and Tim Ryssemus)  is happy surprise in contrast to Red’s often spare songs. “Sons of Sons is a solid toe-tapping country rock song, and the album's first single, “40 Miles” is the kind of song you want to play loud while driving down a country road with nowhere in particular to go. Zachariah Red is backed by an outstanding cast of players and singers that includes the albums two producers and the aforementioned Lindsay Ellyn plus Drew Kohl and drummer Raun Shultz.

A backbone is also used as a symbol of strength and courage.  Many of the characters in Zachariah Red’s songs are deeply flawed individuals, and yet song after song their strength and courage shine through.  It takes a special measure of courage and strength to push forward in the face of one's own shortcomings and failings. This kind of courage and strength is often downplayed by society, but it may be the most important and most common kind of strength and courage.

“Achilles” and “The Bottle” both represent this strength and courage in the face of adversity - even adversity brought on by one’s own poor decisions. Fortunately all of the poor decisions on Backbone are contained in the songs and characters.  The album itself is solid and an excellent representation of one of East Nashville’s most talented songwriters.

Backbone was released January 15, 2016.

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