“Simply put, The Precambrian Age is an album of actual songs about actual subjects written and sung by a guy who certainly seems to have been through it all and wants to share that with people who feel a similar way. That is what songwriting is all about.”
Artist: Zak Smith
Album: The Precrambrian Age
Genre: Classic Rock / Urban Americana
RIYL: Bruce Springsteen, Jakob Dylan, Joe Cocker
Combining singer/songwriter material with a mix of acoustic and electric treatments, Zak Smith proves his worth with passionate vocals and concisely written songs from the gut. One listen to the album The Precambrian Age and an overwhelmingly obvious characteristic will shine through: “This guy sounds like Bruce Springsteen”! Smith most certainly echoes The Boss, not just in his voice, but his style of writing and musical arrangements. And there’s a lot of pride that Smith should take in hearing such comparisons (I’m assuming he’s definitely heard the name Bruce Springsteen brought up a few times).
To make things clear, however, Smith is his own artist. He is not in any way copying Springsteen, and in quite a few of the songs on the album Smith really doesn’t sound like him. However, there are more than a few nods in that direction. The opener “Tombs Don’t Roll Back” is a wonderful song with a great shuffle to it. With the combination of the drums, guitars, organ, bass, piano and sax this is one of the more obvious moments that recall Springsteen. Female backing vocals change things up a bit, but the gruff lead vocals and world-weary everyman lyrics evoke Springsteen. Regardless, “Tombs Don’t Roll Back” is a really good song.
A number of other songs conjure up other influences, like “Drugs” (which includes the chorus of “I don’t need no friends, I don’t need no one, I don’t need anything but drugs”). I hope the song isn’t from experience, but the sentiment is actually not as dour as one would think and is another example of Smith’s lyrical skill. “Drugs” grabs the listener’s attention right away and you’ll be immersed in Smith’s tale in no time. On this cut, Smith evokes comparisons to Jakob Dylan.
The soulful “Calvary’s Cross” and the horn-laced “Wait On Me” are very strong compositions where Smith employs strong vocal work and gets his message across with conviction. “Wait On Me” carries a Joe Cocker vibe and is another song that makes use of female backing vocals. The song “K (Part 2)” has some stinging lead guitar and a bluesy vibe to it. “It’s Been A Hard Year Alone” is also a solid track and sounds like a tune any smoky bar should have someone playing it in.
“Doomed Youth” is a Springsteen-meets-Van Morrison tune that doesn’t disappoint. The horn arrangements are well executed and the song has great verve and bounce to it. The final number “Selling” establishes more of a country-rock vibe and Smith’s voice couldn’t be any more suited to the song.
Simply put, The Precambrian Age is an album of actual songs about actual subjects written and sung by a guy who certainly seems to have been through it all and wants to share that with people who feel a similar way. That is what songwriting is all about. If you appreciate such things, there isn’t any reason not to find out more about Zak Smith and his music.
Zak Smith website: http://www.zaksmithband.com/home.cfm