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Zac Harmon – Music Is Medicine

Urban Eagle LLC

11 tracks; 55:40 minutes

Music Is Medicine is Blues with a healthy dose of soul and maybe a shot of Gospel. The new CD contains 11 original tracks. Besides winning the 2004, International Blues Challenge, Zac Harmon has won a Blues Music Award and a number of other notable awards. A Grammy-nominated producer, he also has written and produced for many of the biggest names in music. Zac Harmon has energized and enthralled audiences across the country and is often on the Blues Cruise.

It will come as no big surprise to those who know Harmon’s music that he previously wrote some songs for the O’Jays. Harmon’s vocals are super-smooth and expressive, much like the more recent direction of Robert Cray’s music. Harmon is backed up by the flawless Temptation-esque harmony of his band’s other vocalists. These include Cedric Goodman on vocals and drums, Corey Lacy on vocals and keyboards, and Buthel on Bass. This album also features several guest instrumentalists.

Harmon’s band sounds like they’ve been singing and playing together for decades - and perhaps more importantly, they sound like they’re having fun. The last track on this CD, “Joanna,” serves as a showcase for the considerable talents of Harmon’s band members.

The biggest treat here is Harmon’s guitar work. This Jackson, Mississippi native knows his way around a fret board. His solos are confident, clean and much more Blues-infused than your average guitarist. He’s also not afraid to change up the styles a bit. For example, “I’d Rather Be With You” has a Caribbean feel, while the Gospel vibes are prevalent in “Grandma’s Prayer.”

 “Wounded,” would be the strongest song in this collection featuring other talent from the Urban Eagle LLC label: Sue Ann Carwell, Gregg Wright and BR Million. This song is the “he said/she said” account of a relationship gone wrong. The main line and theme of the song is, “I gave you my heart (or soul), but I didn’t know I would be wounded by you.” The male and female vocalists repeat this line, in turn, with varying degrees of emotion. Meanwhile, the accompaniment very skillfully builds and softens at just the right places. As a result, you not only hear the story, you feel it.

“Blue Pill Thrill.” seems a bit distasteful – in much the same way as one might dislike a song that talks about female problems. But, to each his own.

Harmon reveals his personal faith in several of the songs on this CD, from the edgy “Running From the Devil” to the very sweet “Grandma’s Prayer.” The CD jacket contains a whole page of thank you shout outs with the first thanks going to God, in gratitude for the opportunity to “share his music with the world.”

In “I’m A Healer,” Harmon reveals that he wants to heal the world with his music. I, for one, am convinced that Harmon takes his mission seriously.

Reviewer Sheila Skilling is a self-professed “blues fan by marriage,” who was hooked by her husband’s musical preferences, but reeled in by the live performances of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Buddy Guy and others. She lives in the Minneapolis area.


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