Zed Mitchell – Route 69
Z Records – 2020
12 tracks; 52 minutes
This is guitarist Zed Mitchell’s eighth solo album release though over a 50+ year career in music Zed has been involved in over 20 albums, both as group member and session musician. Originally from Belgrade, Zed is now based in Germany and this album is mainly a solo effort as only three musicians are involved throughout: Zed on vocals, guitars, keys and bass, his son Todor Manojilovic on guitars and B/V’s and David Haynes on drums; Sascha Kuhn plays keys and Max Schurakowski sax on one track each. Zed presumably plays everything else we hear, produced, programmed and mixed the album and wrote all the material, with lyrics provided on four tracks by London-based music promoter Pete Feenstra.
The general feel here is relaxed, melodic rock with the obvious touchstones being artists like Mark Knopfler and Chris Rea; indeed, Zed’s vocals sound rather like Knopfler with a trace of foreign accent. There is little actual blues music here, but no shortage of clean, lyrical guitar phrasing on tracks like “Freedom Trail”, one of four songs with Pete Feenstra’s lyrics. Pete’s other contributions include the opening track “By Sundown You’ll Be Gone” with the catchy chorus “But I know, the wolf gets hungry, and I know it won’t be long, when your love runs out of money, by sundown, you’ll be gone” and “The Girl That Broke Your Heart”, a ballad whose moody feel is enhanced by the addition of keyboards. The sax appears on “Midnight Melody” which has something of a late-night jazz feel from a strong bass line, Hammond effects and David’s use of brushes.
Much of the album is of very similar pace and feel, even duration; for instance, eight of the twelve tracks are between 4.00 and 4.30. You end up wishing that there was a real rocker to break up the melodic material but there really isn’t one here. The result is an album that is pleasant throughout but somehow fails to achieve lift-off.