REVIEWS

"Great job Zan! 'Better Dream' is the bomb!" Oren Waters - singer on over 250 gold & platinum albums, including "Thriller" & albums by Paul Simon, John Fogerty, Rod Stewart, Don Henley, and many more.

"I love the instrumentals, and 'Better Dream' makes you stop and think about stuff like your life and how you can maybe make a better dream for yourself." Doug Gorlin - Owner Hollyview Sound Recording Studio, Hollywood CA.

"Thanx for the fab CD - I love it!!!"
Joanna Hartell, Assistant Property Master, Law & Order, NYC

 

An award-winning songwriter, Zan Burnham has been writing since the early 90s for his band Zan Zone. While previous recordings have featured electric instruments in a rock ‘n’ roll format, his latest release, Time & Materials is a stripped down acoustic approach. With mandolin, dulcimer and banjo accompaniment combined with acoustic guitar, bass and percussion, the album has an enjoyable eclectic vibe. From instrumental tracks “Skydog Salute” and “Bipolar/Hilarity Rag” to the more emotional “Better Dream,” the band’s talent is undeniable.

A mix of folk, Americana and blues, Time & Materials is a versatile release that offers much to its listeners. Whether it’s an eight minute instrumental song or a bluesier track (aptly titled “The Blues”) featuring multiple harmonica interludes, the album has that laidback, personal and at times campfire feel.

 

“Even though I’ve written a great many rock songs, there’s an intimacy that seems to feel so natural in a song composed and played on an acoustic guitar. You feel like your song expresses exactly the profound experiences and passionate feelings that inspired you to write,” Burnham said. I couldn’t agree more with his sentiments.

Starting off Time & Materials with “Better Dream,” the listener quickly feels the emotion in Burnham’s longing vocals. “Clock is tickin’ there upon the wall/Sunset scatters long shadows in the hall…I hear whispers and screams/Maybe there’s somethin’ better/Maybe there’s a better dream,” he sings with fitting finger picking as the questioning of life and its adequacy is displayed. In addition, a confused edginess is felt mid-song throughout the more somber lyrics.

“Carey Won’t You Sing For Me” is a more uplifting track with the man in the story requesting a beautiful song from his lady, Carey. “Carey won’t you sing along/You put such magic in a song/Your notes are never wrong,” Burnham sings. Obviously, the title says it all.

Time & Materials encompasses many instrumental tracks. While on any other album this may seem peculiar, Zan Zone proves to be the exception. Each song allows the listener to decipher as he wishes, making up his own story as the guitar or banjo plays along. The flow between each track seemingly provides the album’s own tale. Case in point: “September Rain” segues nicely after instrumental “Charles O’ Connor” so well in fact; it seems that both songs belong as one.

Whether it’s providing self introspection on “That Flame” or jamming throughout eight minute track “Skydog Salute,” Zan Zone demonstrate their prowess on each instrument. The variation keeps the listener on his toes, not quite sure what to expect next. While solely instrumental tracks are often hard to sway the listener, Zan Zone manages to keep the audience engaged, and that for any band is an impressive feat.

REVIEWED BY: Annie Reuter, a New Jersey/New York-based freelance writer and music blogger, covers shows in and around the tri-state area. Some of her reviews and interviews have been featured on MTV.com, RollingStone.com and AbsolutePunk.net - From 2009-05-23

 

From 9/20/09

Hello and thank you your music makes me smile in a positive way which is always good.
I think you are an excellent wordsmith but my favorite on Time & Materials is the instrumental "Bipolar Rag" - very clever.
I also like the song "Watching The World Go By"
Very tight and it bites - and I like that new one "Hard To Get".

All the best!
Laurie Jones - musician, Bayern, Germany

I like the message of "Better Dream" but, the song "carey won't you sing for me" just makes me smile and I like stuff that makes me smile. Just for a second I could see your carey standing in the middle of the bar and starting to sing... Thank you!
Hey, just listened to "watching the world go by..." wow. That rocks. Keep it up like that, I'd like to hear more!
Ben - musician, Germany

Hey Homie, just wanted to tell you I enjoy the tunes - I've got Better Dream.  .  . in heavy rotation its really two or three CD's so keep up the good works. Lots of tasty picking and writing.
flux - NYC musician

Heard a few clips online. You have some great material here.
Have a great weekend and talk to you soon!
Danie Cortese 
President / CEO
Danie Cortese Entertainment & Publicity Inc. (International)

Hi Zan,
 I checked out the tunes on your web site.  Nice
stuff! I was glad that you had a couple of electric cuts, 'cause it gave me
a chance to hear that side of you too. [got no kick against acoustic either,
btw] Is that you playing lead on Hard to Get? Great tune.
Robert Zurer - NYC musician

Hey Zan,

Your music sounds great.  You have a nice dynamic going on between the instruments in your tracks.  Do you record this all yourself?
Bryan Teoh - NYC musician

 

Hi Zan,
Sorry it took me this long (2 months) to respond to the CD that you sent me.  

I have now listened to it 3 times and continue to appreciate more & more in it every time I hear it.  Like your other 2 (CD & EP), it is a true multidimensional work of art:  a masterpiece.  I can only slowly begin to absorb all the layers of time and creativity that must have gone into its production: From the composition of powerful music, & meaningful lyrics, to multitrack excellent instrumentation & vocals, to the art work, both photos and lyric layout.   Even the credits were extensive and thoughtful.  I guess you really do get some things done in that basement of yours.  

Other comments:
Your voice sounds excellent, both in quality and tonal diversity.  Carey won't you sing... is a very uplifting & catchy tune.  I really like those high pitched plucking guitar notes, (almost as much as those dynamite low ones in The Blues song), In 3rd instrumental, I thought I noticed a few missed notes (I could be wrong).  September Rain, & Sunday Afternoon & The Blues are beautifully mellow songs. The intro to The Blues is fab!  Both Better Dream & Candle are refreshingly hopeful in their message (Tho, I could not have appreciated this fact without the written lyrics).  Denise just dropped by to say she really likes The Camping Song--and that its a very different style than your usual--hinting at your untapped versatility.  I am wondering who does the female vocals in that one?  If that's you, you have really got to loosen your underwear.

All told, your artistic talents continue to amaze and delight me.  An awesome piece of work!

Your loyal fan,
Mark Tieman, MD, L.I. NY

 

From 10/17/09
Fans of Zan Zone may not be used to a mellow, acoustic album but that is exactly what his latest CD "Time & Materials" is. Zan Burnham takes his composing skills to a new level as his voice is strong and sincere and it shows on these well balanced acoustic songs. The acoustic guitar is played with extreme skill and is something to be admired. "September Rain" shows the kind of passion and emotion that can be put into a song. His use of banjo and other country instruments in "The Camping Song" gives the song a wonderful happy-go-lucky feeling. Each song on "Time & Materials" has something different to offer, an emotion, a catchy riff, or a haunting lyric. This is a strong album that is for music lovers and musicians alike and proves to be rootsy, melodic, and quite interesting.
-Matt M. and the RadioIndy.com Reviewer Team

 

From 1/18/2010

Your music sounds awesome!

Sarah O., NYC Club Booking Agent

nycbooking@hotmail.com

 

 

From ROOTSTIME, a Belgium Internet radio & magazine www.rootstime.be
2/14/2010:

Rap zijn de drie heren van de Brooklynse formatie ‘Zan Zone’ zeker niet als het op het uitbrengen van platen aankomt. De release van hun titelloze debuutalbum “Zan Zone” gebeurde immers al veertien jaar geleden en buiten een ep “Watching The World” in 2005 werd er nauwelijks wat gemeld rond de band. Toch bestaat het trio als sinds de beginjaren ’90 toen gitarist en zanger Zan Burnham bassist Justin Cawley en drummer Ramon Echegaray optrommelde om samen muziek te gaan spelen.
 
Nu is er eindelijk een nieuwe studioplaat van ‘Zan Zone’ verschenen onder de titel “Time & Materials” met daarop tien eigen composities die een beetje verrassend eerder in de akoestische folkcategorie thuishoren.
 
Ondanks zijn reputatie als schrijver van luidere rocksongs komt Zan Burnham opvallend knap uit de hoek met deze akoestische en intimistische gitaarsongs. Hij probeert zijn nummers in de richting van actuele singer-songwriters als David Gray, Josh Rouse en Damien Rice te sturen wat qua muziek vrij aardig lukt. Maar vocaal zit hij toch op een heel ander spoor dan deze 3 muzikanten. In “Better Dream” klinkt zijn stem eerder monotoon en “Carry Won’t You Sing for Me” is een wat fletse song in de stijl van een Ierse traditional.
 
Het betere werk op deze cd menen wij te herkennen in de liedjes “September Rain’, “Song For A Sunday Afternoon” en “The Camping Song”, een countrysong met viool, banjo en mondharmonica, waarbij Kat en Danny Minogue voor extra vocale ondersteuning zorgen. Ook het laid back gezongen, zes minuten durende slotnummer “The Blues” kan ons enigszins bekoren.
 
Verder wordt er op dit album nog instrumentaal werk aangeboden met het uitsluitend op akoestische gitaar gespeelde “Charles O’Connor” en de nummers “Skydog Salute” en “Bipolar/Hilarity Rag”. Nu moeten we vooral afwachten of een opvolger voor “Time & Materials” opnieuw 15 jaar op zich zal laten wachten.
(valsam)
www.rootstime.be

English Translation:

The Versatile Brooklyn group, Zan Zone, is slow to release albums. The release of their self-titled debut came fourteen years ago and outside of an 2005 EP, "Watching The World", there has been scarce information about the band. Yet there is a trio which formed in the early 90's when guitarist and vocalist Zan Burnham, bassist Justin Cawley, and drummer Ramon Echegaray decided to play music together.

So finally, there is a new studio album of "Zan Zone", which appears under the title "Time & Materials" with ten compositions that belong, a bit surprisingly, in an more traditional acoustic folk song category.

Despite his reputation as a writer of rock songs, what's striking is, is that Zan Burnham, takes a clever angle with these intimate acoustic numbers. He tries out numbers that are in the direction of other contemporary writers such as David Grey, Joush Rouse, and Damien Rice, and he pretty much succeeds in making some nice music. However, his singing is occasionally not up to the level of these other artists. In "Better Dream" his voice sounds monotonous, and "Carey Won't You Sing For Me", is a somewhat dull little song in a traditional Irish style.

The better songs on this cd that we recognize are "September Rain", "Song For A Sunday Afternoon", & "The Camping Song", an oldtime country number with violin, banjo, and dulcimer, and also with extra vocal support from Cat and Danny Minogue. Also in a laid back singing style, lasting six minutes, and with a tasty harmonica, is "The Blues", which we found charming.

In addition, the album has three instrumentals that feature the acoustic guitar. "Charles O' Conner" is unaccompanied, and the numbers "Skydog Salute" and "Bipolar/Hilarity Rain" have some light percussion. Now we wait to see if a successor for "Time & Materials" will be delayed for another 15 years.(Valsam)

 

From 12/2010

I just listened to the disc and you have created a wonderfully sensuous
and intimate mood with the your choice of instrumentation. It is a very personal look into the
years you have lived with your artistry and it works. Your guitar skills have continued to
ascend to the rarefied altitude where only eagles are found. I have to listen to it a few times
when I'm not working, but, it seems like "Better Dream" is deserving of some media attention
and your instrumental cover is ready for some airplay as well. The lyrics are wonderfully
existential. Great disc design from top to bottom.

Philip G. Dessinger, VP
North American Precis Syndicate, Inc.

 

From 5/2011

Hi Zan - yeah it was one of the best musical experiences I've had in a while. You're a great musician and should be playing more. I especially liked the drummer and vibeist too.

Robert Mast - bassist hired for a Zan Zone show, 5/14/11

 

Zan Zone is my mom's favorite band, she brings up how great you are every time I see her since Saturday. She had a great time, even though she was tired. And I did too. I am mad that you only got to play for two hours, not even. I felt like you guys could have played all night. Well, I hope you are ok with how things turned out, I know you put alot into the evening, and it showed in how good it sounded. Talk to you soon.

Joanna Hartell - Co-promoter for Zan Zone show, 5/14/11

 

 

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