Zona’s Latest LP Is 2016’s Most Surprising EDM Record So Far

Courtesy:  70X7 Records

Courtesy: 70X7 Records

Electronic Dance Music, or EDM for short, is one of the most widespread genres in the musical universe.  It is also interestingly enough one of the most maligned genres out there.  That is because it is known more for a constant 2/4 feel driven mostly by keyboards and a DJ than real musicians.  What’s more it also rarely offers any real insightful lyrical content when it actually does present any lyrical content.  These aren’t just stereotypes of EDM.  They are in large part very true across the genre.  So it goes without saying that EDM group Zona’s new album Peace, Love, and Understanding is quite the surprising dance record.  This record, due out this Friday, March 18th, is the near antithesis of everything for which EDM is known.  Yes, it has the standard upbeat 2/4 sound in every one of its twelve total tracks.  But it can be said at least of that sound that it does vary if only a little bit from track to track.  What’s more the group also offers lyrical content in each song; content that will keep listeners engaged no less.  These are just a couple of ways in which this record stands out.  The album’s sequencing rounds out its standout presentation.  That element, when set against the album’s musical and lyrical content, makes the album one of the biggest surprises of the EDM world so far this year and the most welcome EDM record of the year so far, too.

EDM outfit Zona’s new album Peace, Love, and Understanding is one of the biggest surprises of the EDM world so far this year.  It is one of the most surprisingly welcome records from that realm, too.  That is because by and large it bucks the trend of most EDM records.  It does this in part via its musical content.  Don’t be mistaken.  The albums’ musical content boasts the standard upbeat 2/4 sound that is so commonplace among most EDM acts.  What sets Zona apart from all of those acts primarily is the fact that even with this sound and vibe the group actually changes things up somewhat from one song to the next.  That is obvious early on in the album’s third track ‘My Love.’  That 2/4 tempo is there.  But the song’s arrangement is distinctly different from the record’s first two offerings.  The difference comes in the song’s dual keyboard lines.  The juxtaposition of the two lines is more defined here than in the first two songs.  That is not to say that the other songs lack that harmony so to speak.  But it is more defined here than in those songs.  ‘Slave To The Rhythm’ is another example of what makes this record’s musical arrangements stand out from other EDM records.  It reaches back to EDM’s disco roots more than most of its counterparts presented throughout the record’s body.  There are cymbal splashes, backing vocals that cut through, and other elements that give the song so much soul.  It all comes together to illustrate the song’s equally celebratory lyrical theme so well.  That theme will be discussed later.  Getting back on track, the song’s arrangement—with its various elements and their use—stands out from the rest of that of the album’s other songs and even from other EDM offerings.  It  is one more example of what makes the album in whole stand out, too.  ‘Jesus Is’ is one more example of what makes the album’s musical content overall so important to its presentation.  This song stands out in regards to its musical content thanks to its mix of keyboards and live elements.  One can tell that unlike so many of the album’s other offerings, the drums used as the song’s foundation were actual drums rather than a facsimile thereof.  The two elements are expertly balanced throughout, ensuring that audiences will remain engaged.  It is just one more way in which the album’s musical content proves to be so important to its presentation.  Of course it is hardly the last song that could be used to prove the importance of the album’s musical content.  There are nine other songs featured in this record that could just as easily be used for that argument.  Together with the trio noted here, all twelve songs show clearly why the album’s musical content is just as important to the album as its lyrical content or anything else.

The musical content that is presented throughout the course of Zona’s new record is an undeniably important part of the album’s twelve-song makeup.  That is because it doesn’t just stick to the standard 2/4 “boom-chick vibe in every one of those songs.  The group throws in little variances in each song that makes each song interesting in its own right.  The songs’ musical arrangements are just one part of what makes Peace, Love, and Understanding stand out as well as it does.  The album’s lyrical content is just as important to its presentation as its musical content.  That is made clear right off the top in the album’s opener ‘I Am Beautiful.’  The song, which was co-written by Jerry Andrews an Dmitri Craven, and performed by Valerie Moise, presents a message of self-confidence to listeners.  Moise sings here, “I never knew my own strength/I never knew my own worth/And when I crashed down/I got myself back up again/Now I know my own strength/During the hard times/I pushed on through/I held my head up to the sky/When I looked in the mirror/I saw the beauty inside me/Then I felt the spirit move inside me.”  She goes on to sing of all the negativity in the world and how no matter how much there is none of it will tear her down, no matter what.  It is a rare message in regards to the world of EDM especially considering how few EDM acts actually present any lyrical content let alone insightful content.

‘Slave To The Rhythm’ is another example of what makes the album stand out lyrically.  This celebratory song sees vocalist Jackie Wilson espousing the joy of just dancing and being letting one’s self be the proverbial slave to the music.  Wilson sings against the song’s upbeat musical backing, “In my world/I know that everything’s gonna be okay/When the music plays/All my cares seem to float away/All my problems see to vanish all around me/And I don’t care who’s watching or looking at me.”  It uses the old adage of dancing like no one is watching, etc. and just being carefree.  She also sings in the song’s lead verse about the music taking over, and her becoming one with it.  It is more along the lines, lyrically speaking, of what is presented in most EDM songs that actually present lyrical content.  Yet at the same time there is something organic in these lyrics that sets the song apart from its counterparts.  When set against the song’s musical content, that organic and relatable content makes the song stand out even more as an example of what makes the album’s lyrical content so important to its presentation.

Perhaps most interesting of all of this record’s songs, in terms of its lyrical content, is the album’s penultimate composition ‘Jesus Is.’  The song is a straight forward religiously based piece.  It touts the importance of following Jesus’ word and that one’s own plan might not necessarily be that of Jesus.  This is so important to note because this album is not exactly what one would call a religiously based record even with its bright, optimistic lyrical content.  Chellena Black sings here, “I was broken and I didn’t see no way out/The mountains were so high that I couldn’t get through/You said don’t worry what you’re gonna eat or wear/Just trust in me and I’ll take care of you.”  She goes on to sing in the song’s chorus, “Jesus is the way/Jesus is the truth/Jesus is love/Jesus is light.”  She goes on in very similar fashion in the song’s second and third verse before repeating the song’s chorus again.  Again none of the album’s other offerings present any religious content in their lyrical themes.  So this makes this piece stand out even more.  What’s important is that even though Zona is not exactly a Christian music group, the song is still a welcome addition to the group’s new album because it boasts its own invaluable message in its lyrics.  Given it’s somewhat unusual in its placement.  But it is still another welcome addition to the album.  It is one more example of what makes the album’s lyrical content so important to the album’s overall presentation.  Together with the album’s musical content both elements make the album in whole well worth the listen whether one is a fan of EDM or not.  Even together they are not the album’s only important elements.  The album’s sequencing is just as important to its presentation as its musical and lyrical content.

The musical and lyrical content presented across Zona’s new album are in themselves hugely important parts of the album’s presentation.  As important as they are to the album’s whole, they are not the only album’s only important elements.  The album’s sequencing is just as important as its music and lyrics.  Audiences will note that over the course of the album’s twelve total songs, Zona doesn’t leave very much dead air so to speak.  It uses well-balanced fade in and fade out effects at the beginning and end of each song to seamlessly connect each song even as the songs change styles.  Speaking of those changing sounds, the songs vary just enough stylistically throughout the course of the album’s sixty-four minutes that said variances are just as certain to keep listeners engaged as the seamless transitions from song to song.  Both elements are in themselves important in the bigger picture of the album’s sequencing.  That is because of their ability to keep listeners engaged.  Altogether they make the album’s overall sequencing just as clearly important to its presentation as its musical and lyrical content.  All things considered the whole of Peace, Love, and Understanding presents the album to be one of the most surprising offerings from the EDM realm this year and one of the most surprisingly welcome offerings, too.

Peace, Love, and Understanding is one of the most surprising EDM offerings to be released so far this year.  That is because it is anything but the standard EDM record.  Its musical content bucks the trend of most EDM records.  The same can be said of its lyrical content.  It actually presents lyrics, and deep, insightful lyrics at that.  The album’s sequencing rounds out its presentation.  Between the songs’ transitions and their gradual stylistic evolution over the course of the record’s hour-plus run time the album’s sequencing is just as certain to keep listeners engaged as the album’s musical and lyrical content.  All things considered, Peace, Love, and Understanding proves in the end to be the year’s most surprising EDM record so far and the most welcome, too.  It will be available this Friday, March 18th.  More information on Peace, Love, and Understanding is available online now along with Zona’s latest news at:

 

Website: http://www.zonavibes.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/zonavibes

Twitter: http://twitter.com/zonavibes

 

 

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