Mark S. Young
Shanna Zell Blows with a Force Into NY Music Scene
A wind is blowing hard into the New York music scene.. Soulfoul like Tori, a bit of Alanis’s anger mixed with the rock edge of a Liz Phair, 22 year old singer-songwriter Shanna Zell provides a breath of fresh air with melody and touching lyrics perfect to bring the public out of the doldrums of today’s manufactured pop, lame hip-hop, or whiny ballads.
Zell’s Hurricane Season starts off loud and direct, the drums hammering listeners into the “Ectascy Parade.” “Running to the money but it’s the music that I’m craving,” Zell makes it perfectly obvious of her passion to be a rock star, but her lyrics are not without soul and creativity. The music is well produced and in sync with Shanna’s ear-soothing voice, stylish bass lines and quality guitar rifts from lead Jeremiah Burnbaum.
The first two tracks, including “The Dig,” are rock heavy and loud, but Hurricane Season is multidimensional, providing listeners with slower guitar tunes, piano ballads, and great pop that had several colleagues of mine dancing around the office. Slow ballads, including “46th St.” and “Don’t Go,” magnify Zell’s lyrical abilities and very appealing vocals. She is not, however, without a sense of anger and frustration. Make sure your kids aren’t listening to Flatlands, as I found myself back in high school reminded of Alanis’s Jagged Little Pill. Like Morrisette in 1995, Zell is young, but already has a strong sense of musical maturity.
I am partial to the great pop tune, and if you need a great folk-rock pick me up sail down to Track #7, “Midnight Tide.” Zell masters the art of transforming the simple acoustic chord progression into a light, meaningful, upbeat, pop-tune that in my opinion belongs on the Top 40 charts right now. It is on constant repeat on my I-pod and will have you “spinning like the mirrors on a disco-ball.”
The overall appeal for Hurricane Season is its diversity and coherent flow. It has pick-me ups, cool downs, and provides for auditory mysterious journeys. Close your eyes during Zell’s creative cover of the Church’s “Under the Milky Way,” it will whisk you away. There are tracks you can click straight to depending on your mood, but the album also flows nicely as a unit. In this era of I-Tunes and track downloads the album as a work of art may be obsolete, but Hurricane Season makes a case for the album as an art itself. Let’s just say I am glad that the first full length CD I bought in two years was Hurricane Season.
There is certainly room for growth in Zell’s music. She could do without reverb in some songs, and many musical effects included in “Flatlands” or â€˜The Dig” are maybe too elaborate, critical only because she proves her melodic talent just fine without any bells and whistles. On that point, don’t forget to listen and pay attention to the last two tracks. “Kitchen Light” especially will have you falling into a daydream we have all experienced, strife, victory, loss, love, and searching all rolled into 4minutes and 15 seconds. She has a mastery of rhythm on guitar and piano that is on par with many major label acts.
Zell’s performance at her CD release party at the Makor Café on November 19th exuberated an overwhelming sense of confidence on stage. She not only lives and breathes her music but she loves performing it, which is revealed on the CD as well. The 2005 season of Hurricanes may have ended November 30th, but Hurricane Season is a good listen any time of the year. For Zell, I hope this is just her first storm to hit.