REVIEW by Andrew Greenhalgh
Co-Editor Stereo Subversion LLC
Andrew Francis Zunno is the type of artist that’s hard to pin down. Possessed of a solid pedigree and great skills, it’s hard to believe that he’s not a more well-known musician. But perhaps that sense of humility that’s found in his music is also what colors his life as well.
Zunno grew up playing multiple instruments, guitar, bass, clarinet, and more among them and starting at the age of sixteen he began performing with bands and eventually landed gigs playing at some high-profile clubs. To date, he’s played at illustrious New York City venues such as The Bitter End, The China Club, and Tramps. He would then go on to graduate college with a degree in business and music. But he soon tired of life on stage and set to work crafting compositions of his own. He set out writing music for others and has seen his work grace cable networks at home and abroad as well as show up on “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”
Now Zunno has turned back inward and offers up Somewhere in the Middle, a collection of songs recorded and produced from 2010 to 2012. It’s a diverse gathering of Americana, country, jazz, and more and is mostly instrumental in nature which plays to Zunno’s strengths yet can be a hindrance at points. It’s an expansive offering as well, totaling twenty-three songs in all with no real repeats.
As stated, Zunno is a master musician and he segues from genre to genre with ease, never stumbling or offering up a sour note. Tracks like “Cross Country” and “Desert Skies” offer up solidly layered sounds, the musicians shining on every instrument and the arrangements like a warm afternoon breeze. That vibe is largely what dominates the whole of the album, with acoustic tones carrying throughout the whole of tracks like “Zeke’s Landing,” “Baby’s Breath,” and “Going Fishing.”
But Zunno is no one trick pony and he shows his diversity with more established country sounds, presenting tracks like the dobro-infused “Hangin’ on the Porch” and the upbeat electric guitar jams of “Indian Summer.” “Just You and I” presents a country ballad with some nice keyboard work from the artist while “Opening Day” draws some folk and blues notes together in a composition that works well.
The growth continues as Zunno continues to plug in and he showcases more contemporary offerings like “Driven.” A moody track fleshed out with keys, insistent percussion notes, and emotive electric guitar, this track reads from the artist’s television arranging in its dramatic delivery while “I Have No Regrets” is a straight up rocker. Add to that list the swampy vibe of “Outlaws Ride” and Zunno continues to impress.
Yet, the artist is most impressive when he adds a literal voice to the mix, bringing vocals to bear on four excellent tracks here. “Pictures of You” is the most notable, showing up once as a standalone track and a second time with only background vocals added and its mid-tempo country flow delivers. The vocals are warm and inviting, if not overly unique, and it gets the job done, bringing lyrics of love here as well as on the aptly titled, “Love is Enough.” “Forgive Me” shifts gears, tugging at the heartstrings with a plea for forgiveness and a radio-ready delivery while the country rock flavors of “Like a Man” close up shop with pizzazz.
Andrew Francis Zunno may seem to be more comfortable behind the scenes, writing, arranging, and producing songs for others but if his solo work is any indication, that won’t last long. And if he continues to find his own voice, putting lyrics to such great instrumental arrangements, Zunno has the chance to take this music far. A pleasant listening experience with some real solid moments throughout, Zunno’s Somewhere in the Middle is well worth a listen.
Andrew Francis Zunno
Somewhere In the Middle
Reviewed by Andrew Greenhalgh
Co-Editor Stereo Subversion LLC