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CD Reviews  Zola Moon  Tales Of Love And Desperation



 There is nothing in the world more exciting than a beautiful woman—except a beautiful woman that can sing the blues, or even better, a beautiful woman that sings and writes her own blues. Zola Moon is just that; Captivating, outrageous, and mystifying, Zola Moon can sing like an angel or shout like the Devil and everything in-between without missing a beat. This, her sixth album entitled: tales of love and desperation (small caps,) is a stunningly brilliant execution of postmodern blues, written and performed by one of the most unique and exciting ladies in music today.

 There isn’t much I can say about Zola that hasn’t already been said. Zola has been critically acclaimed throughout her career; and yet with each CD release, her talent grows harder and harder for even the most conservative, mainstream record companies to ignore. How many Spice Girls must we endure until a talent like Zola Moon receives the recognition that she deserves?

 “Tales of love and desperation” contains ten original songs that capture the heart and soul of the listener like no one else. Like the late, great Jim Morrison, Zola takes the blues and rock and dares to explore the forbidden emotions that are locked away inside of us all. From the opening line of the album’s first track, “Never Give Up On Ya,” to the final heart pounding “Mechanical Beast,” Zola growls and croons until the word ‘caution’ is but a distant memory. I found it hard to pick a favorite track on this CD, except maybe “Hard Liquor,” for its simple honesty and heartbreaking original melody. Zola doesn’t just write a poem and then put it to music. It is obvious to the listener that Zola and her music are one and the same—breathtakingly beautiful.

 “Bluesville” is a wonderful tribute to the blues. Many have tried to explain to the uninformed how the blues was misnamed, but “Bluesville” is the closest I’ve heard to explain this paradox. “Steel Bars” is a country-western flavored tale of a good girl who inadvertently finds herself behind bars. The lyrics are sly and witty, but Zola’s voice steals the show. On “Snake Eyes,” Zola pulls out all the stops. She warns us that “Vegas ain’t no Disneyland; it’s a cold, cold gambling town.”

 To understand the meaning of “Postmodern Blues,” one need only listen to “Mechanical Beast.” This is a relentless, driving commentary on life in these United States that feature Zola playing harp. Let me rephrase that, for Zola doesn’t just play the harmonica, she manipulates it, bending the notes the way her music bends the listener’s mind, coaxing you to take that path into the woods that you hadn’t noticed before.

 I am not the first, nor will I be the last, to compare Zola Moon with Jim Morrison. I can’t say exactly why Morrison comes to mind so readily when I listen to her. Perhaps it is the unbridled passion that permeates her music. Or, maybe it’s her total disregard for convention. Certainly part of the reason is her band. Like Morrison, Zola has surrounded herself with musicians that are unselfishly dedicated to the performance of her material. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Jerry Olson on drums, Eric Williams on bass and the incredible Vince Joy on guitar. Well done, boys! I saw these same cats appear with Zola at the Long Beach Pride Festival (see review in this issue of SBM) and they were tight, polished and entirely professional.

 Ten fantastic songs from the first lady of avant-garde, postmodern blues and an incredible version of the classic “House of the Rising Sun.” This CD is of great comfort to me, for it reminds me that there is more going on in the field of music besides Madonna and the Dixie Chicks. This is music to stir your heart, excite your senses and fill your soul. It is a breathtakingly sexual, hauntingly beautiful and completely original. It is also for sale at: http://
www.CDbaby.com. You can also visit Zola at: http://www.ZolaMoon.com.


--Pat Benny



 

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