Diana Z is a delightful folky, and somewhat Celtic influenced (ie: Sinead O’Connor) singer/songwriter/guitarist who this writer has had the happy fortune to see live in concert at Jeff Healey’s Roadhouse, recently for Miss Z’s CD release party for her debut CD, All I Want. The Healey’s show was well-attended and received by Diana’s die-hard fans -- and several impressed patrons like myself, who hadn’t the good fortune of seeing Diana in concert up to now.
Based in her hometown of Toronto, Diana plays the local nightclub circuit and has garnered much praise from those who see her shows. One of these shows is a weekly Wednesday night jam she hosts at The Fill Station, in Toronto’s Beach area at 2282 Queen St. East, (in the Beaches Jazz Festival area): http://alltorontopubs.com/listing233.html as well as appearances at PJ O’Brien’s and other venues.
Veteran promoter and fellow music lover Jim Zeppa was all-enthused about Diana and her original tunes, when I ran into him at Diana’s CD release at Healey’s. When Zeppa is this happy about an artist, I tend to listen, and get equally interested myself. Zeppa’s been involved in one capacity or another with many top acts in the past -- including Johnny Winter, Alice Cooper, Joe Walsh, Ronnie Hawkins, Gordon Lightfoot and other rock, blues and folk luminaries over the decades -- so his opinion counts with this writer.
Zeppa didn’t steer me wrong with Miss ‘Z’. She certainly is very charming, captivating and genuinely friendly onstage and off, and her stage show is a definite must to see live! Diana’s debut CD, All I Want also has this very same charismatic charm, which was captured nicely by sound engineer Dan Reid at his Dr Studio in Toronto.
The artwork on the All I Want CD cover -- back, front and inside -- is very enchanting and whimsical as well. It features views of Diana standing beside her retro ‘50s style bike on the Beach boardwalk in Toronto’s East Beaches area -- with the lake and sand in the background .... as well as one of her as a child on her trike, in a similar beach photo. A couple of cute terrier dogs are also featured with Diana as part of the CD cover art. In my book, any singer who’s also a dog lover, most likely will sing from the heart and love her audience, which Diana’s live at Healey’s show definitely came across as. There’s also a photo in the liner notes, of a 1950s FW Woolworth store on a major Toronto street, with a very Fred MacMurray-looking gentleman walking by. These images are just what the doctor ordered, for this writer’s nostalgia-linked heart.
There are several memorable tracks on All I Want, including the enchanting and ethereal "Something Else", as well as the uplifting "Sunshine", which contains the simply put but provocative lyrics, "You’re my sunshine ... you make the day that much brighter by being alive." This says much about the song and the songstress herself!
"Coffee Song" is a vibrant uplifting Diana Z original, that begins with a beautiful accordion intro by Pat Simmons. My immediate reaction when hearing this tune on CD, is "I heard that one (at the show)" .. then, "This has ‘hit’ quality!" (in a big way). Lyrics, like "Do I ever cross your mind, while sipping your coffee? .... Are you starting to feel me .. want me?", have a good feeling about them - adding much to this could-be hit! If DJ’s out there are reading this, they should make note of "Coffee Song", which seems to bubble along like a welcome warming cup of coffee in the morning. "Home", co-written with Dan Reid, seems to have a very CSN&Y vocal harmony character to it, with vocals singing out the meaningful message: "Like autumn leaves, we are so fragile" There is some very nice acoustic guitar picking featured, as an added bonus on this tune!
"Indigo" is a song about Diana’s father who recently passed, and who is in her words, "the handsome, well-dressed gentleman featured in the ‘50s FW Woolworth photo in the liner notes." The spiritual quality and devotion in "Indigo", in lyrics like "Not in body, but definitely in spirit", reflect most listeners’ feelings about lost loved ones. The emotionally charged guitar leads accompanying Diana’s vocals, also reflect this sentiment quite well.
There are several other extremely entertaining Diana Z originals on All I Want, including the opening number and title tune "All I Want". The chorus features the lyrics, "My heart is pounding .. " which seems to have a reverberating background effect in the vocals, which actually helps recreate an emotional ‘heartbeat’ effect in Diana’s vocals. Very nice producing on this one! I’d like to add, that the instrumentals on All I Want, are superb throughout, and well orchestrated. With two acoustic guitarists including Diana and lap steel guitar, as well as electric bass, marimba and maracas, it can’t go wrong!
"Kind & Generous" is the uplifting closing number on All I Want. It’s by Natalie Merchant, and the only completely non-original on this CD. It’s a good choice, if there has to be one non-Diana tune included. "K & G" is a simple message of thanks, with lyrics like "I want to thank you .. thank you .. " This is definitely a heartfelt musical message of gratitude, which Diana Z follows up in her liner notes as well. There’s also some scorching lead guitar riffs courtesy of this CD's producer/guitarist Dan Reid, which add to the feelings in Diana’s vocals. An added chorus of ‘La, La-La’ sing-along-inspired passages, make this song a very nice way to bring to a close a very positive, delightful to listen to CD.
I think the listener will be very happy with the purchase of this All I Want debut CD by Diana Z. Seven of the 10 tracks are Miss Z originals, with another two co-written with Dan Reid, and the previously mentioned Natalie Merchant closing number.