Mike Zito,
Pearl River
(Eclectogroove, 2009)

Last year, I had the pleasure of reviewing Mike Zito's first album, Today, and reported that it introduced a major talent. His new one, Pearl River, surpasses Today. It's an amazing piece of work, demonstrating that Zito is not just a born bluesman -- he is certainly that -- but is a complete musician.

The album kicks off with "Dirty Blonde," a pretty disposable jump blues that rocks kind of hard and contains some fine guitar playing, but remains pretty much your standard uptempo album kickoff song. It's with the next song, "Pearl River" that the magic begins. A tough ballad about tough times, "Pearl River" shows us Zito going deep inside, baring his soul and it's a must-be-heard track, well worth the price of the album, especially considering that Cyril Neville sings harmony on it.

The music, elevated by "Pearl River" stays up there. It's filled with surprises. The blues tracks are profoundly soulful and the rock songs blast it out of the park. The highlight of the disc, though, comes right in the middle with the acoustic ballad, "One Step at a Time," a song about finding yourself and taking responsibility for your life that will stay in your head and heart for a long time.

I liked Today a lot, but with Pearl River I became a major fan.

review by
Michael Scott Cain

20 February 2010

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