Mike Zito – Resurrection
Gulf Coast Records – 2021
11 Tracks; 54 Minutes
The pandemic did not seem to slow Mike Zito down one bit. Six months after releasing the award-winning tribute to Chuck Berry, he released Quarantine Blues, a message of hope to his fans during difficult times. Six months later he released the multi-artist compilation Gulf Coast Christmas album. And now, seven months later, he is releasing Resurrection. Joining his band members (Matthew Johnson on drums and Doug Byrkit on bass), are Lewis Stephens on keyboards, Eric Demmer on Saxophone, Fernando Castillo on trumpet, and his son (Zach Zito), on Acoustic guitar. Lisa Andersen also provides some backing vocals.
The album cover features some beautiful artwork by South Korean artist Yool Kim. Zito has aptly described the featured painting as capturing “the feeling of soul and light at the end of a struggle.” The tracks within include eight originals, and three cover songs.
Zito’s guitarwork is predictably exceptional throughout this album and, as in previous albums, his original songs seem to reveal very personal disclosures. “Don’t Bring Me Down” does an excellent job of describing how negative influences are capable of draining the life out of people. “I’m living on faith—you’re living on lies. I’m trying to let go, you’re holding on tight. All of your negative energy. It don’t take much. It starts to bleed. Before I know it, I’m feeling weak. Don’t bring me down.”
Zito also includes two songs which are clearly written for his wife. “Dreaming of You” describes how he is not tempted by other women because of the strength of their love. And the title track, “Resurrection” relays the story of how he almost lost his love but regained it. The beauty of the words, “I was searching for the truth, and I finally realized all my searching ends with you” match the exquisite guitar solo on this track.
One track is co-written with Zito’s Gulf Coast Record partner, Guy Hale. The clever lyrics of this song, which has an old-school rock sound to it, poke fun at our political system. “Every four years–roll out the show…you keep on falling for the same old lies…it’s the same old story, year after year. Politics of hope, shaped by fear.”
Perhaps the best song on the album, “Damned If I Do,” features highly emotional guitar solos and contains lyrics that anyone who has ever stayed in a bad relationship too long will find relatable. “I’m holding on. You’ve got my heart in your hands again…so what am I to do? Wait around for you?… Am I just a fool. Damned if I do, damned if I don’t…I should walk away, but you know I won’t.”
The cover songs on this album are also quite strong. Zito’s rendition of JJ Cale’s “I’ll Make Love to You” has somewhat of a retro sound but is a more melodic version than the original. And fans who have been missing the days when Jimmy Carpenter played with Zito’s band will be happy to hear a nice saxophone solo on this track.
It seems that Zito knew, wisely, not to change much about Eric Clapton’s “The Presence of the Lord,” and his version closely matches the beautiful and inspirational original. On the other hand, the cover of Willie Dixon’s “Evil” was interesting in that it had a creative new sound to it. The only relatively weak aspect of this album, however, is that it can be difficult to listen to any rendition of “Evil”, no matter how solid the performance, without longing for the highly unique sound of Howlin’ Wolf’s voice.
In summary, this is an excellent album, and Zito’s fans will not be disappointed. He has stated that he is once again “excited about love and life and music” and his fans are bound to be excited to add this to their collection. When you listen to Resurrection you will understand why Mike Zito recently won a Blues Music Award for Best Blues Rock Artist.