Zola Moon is one of the few harp playing females on the go, and is right at home in the blues belter vocal tradition (often more Janis Joplin than Koko Taylor). Moon has been picking up hot reviews from several quarters, and her latest CD (somewhat enigmatically entitled "earthquakes, thunder, and smiling lightning") offers some evidence why.
The album, which contains all original material, opens with "Meatgrinder," a track that shows off the rock oriented extreme of Moon's style. This may deter a few people, but is worth persevering, because the opening bars of the next track ("Doll House") launch you straight back into familiar blues territory, and show that Moon can handle a harp. Things get even more mellow on the jazzy "Camel Cash."
The band mainly stick to guitar/harp led blues territory for the rest of the album. There are plenty of highlights, including the driving blues of "Lucky Me," some very sympathetic guitar from Vince Joy on "I Don't Think So." The best moments, however, come on two of the last three tracks. "Lover Man" is another driving blues, which chugs along nicely. The contrasting vocals of Cynthia Manley on this one, add to the song's
overall result. After "Same Old Story," which sounds a little too like Meatloaf in a mellower moment for this reviewer, the album closes on another high with "The Bottom." This is another one that rolls along, and is probably just the best track on the album. The way Moon sings "I want you to meet me, meet me, meet me in the bottom," you would not want to refuse!
"earthquakes, thunder, and smiling lightning" is a good album that showcases Zola Moon's musical talents. Backed by a good bunch of musicians throughout, the album works best when the band sticks closer to a blues groove. Overall the album is most likely to appeal to those who do not mind a dash of rock mixed in with their blues. You should be able to find "earthquakes, thunder, and smiling lightning" on Zola's web site
(www.zolamoon.com) or at CD Baby (www.cdbaby.com).
This review is copyright © 2001 by Gordon Baxter, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.
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