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From The Root by Zac Harmon

The latest release by Zac Harmon is aptly titled From The Root. Harmon has a wide musical palette and he’s an avid explorer of the blues genre, ranging from the raw and visceral to the polished and urbane. It reaches into traditional. Mississippi blues, the West Side sound, gospel, soul, reggae. Even the more contemporary trains of R&B co-exist comfortably on this eagerly-anticipated release.

Harmon has been compared favorably to icons like Little Milton, Bobby "Blue" Bland, Albert King and Bobby Rush. His guitar chops are something to behold, an amalgam of Eric Clapton, Robert Cray and Albert King. Harmon has backed up names like Sam Myers, Z.Z. Hill and Dorothy Moore and he’s been a writer, arranger, engineer and multi-instrumentalist, so versatility is his byword.

Many titles practically announce their direction. "Hattie Mae" is a groove-laden opus of Mississippi blues, with harpist Jimmy Z adding zesty touches. It’s no stretch to surmise the focus of "Back Bitin’ Back Stabbers. It’s hard-edged soul with a funky groove and a witty stream of consciousness. The spirit of Bob Marley animates "That’s What A Woman Needs." This infectious slice of reggae will get you into a festive mood. Another stylistic twist elicits our undivided attention on "The Price Of Lovin’ You," a sumptuous duet with soul chanteuse Sueann Cowell. It should delight listeners of all age groups.

The adventurous flow continues with versatility and solid craftsmanship keeps everything fresh and it’s all abetted with superior material. Such as "Honey Bee," which captures the mood of 60s-era Memphis-style blues. Four parts Sam & Dave, two parts Albert King! "Smile On Your Face" fast-forwards 30 years with its romantic flavor evoking memories of Smokey Robinson informed by the New Edition and Kool and The Gang and let’s not forget the standout chorus, consisting of Zac, Sue Ann, and Daryl "Stogie" Walker. This a musical gift that would be much appreciated by that special person in your life. A couple of songs later, Harmon’s tougher side comes to the fore on "Keep The Blues Alive." A suggestion to be avidly wished!

Space is insufficient to elaborate on other quality tracks, but all warrant high praise, especially "The Older Woman," which has all the ingredients of an instant soul classic.. Harmon has moved the blues into the 21st century without sacrificing tradition. And while no two people could possibly see eye-to-eye on every track, that’s only because "From The Root" is akin to a musical buffet table crammed with enough delicacies to satisfy the most finicky of tastes. Even a mere nibble from one tray can’t possibly detract from the overall pleasure of this savory musical experience.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Zac Harmon
  • CD Title: From The Root
  • Genre: Blues
  • Year Released: 2009
  • Record Label: Northernblues
  • Rating: Five Stars
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