Zak Smith: Signs of Life
In the midst of varying genres and subgenres, Americana music remains grounded in its roots. Musician Zak Smith once again perpetuates these attributes in his latest full-length album, Signs of Life. The album’s overall pace is a slow crawl, featuring mellow acoustic ballads and soft vocals. Yet after an initial listen, the pace is fitting—the songs convey messages better served by simple construction.
Smith leads listeners through an introspective journey starting with the opening track, “Have You Looked Outside.” Americana music’s genre stems from folk protest music of the past, and this song is a nod to that. One lyric states, “There’s a corporate heart beating/ A corrupted cancer that has spread far and wide/ And revolution will sort things together.” It’s a theme that risks being overdone, but Smith carefully crafts the track to convey the issue of society’s reliance on corporate security.
“Signs of Life,” the sixth track, is more than just the album title. Although the music takes a soft, simply structured approach, the dark undertones entwined within the lyrics are anything but: “They blind us; They beat us/ We gave them more signs of life/ May time run to meet us/ May graves record signs of life.”
Signs of Life boasts metaphorical storytelling and intelligent lyricism. Every song maintains its character, while encompassing classic Americana elements paired with Smith’s modern twist.
This review first appeared in Issue 05