Jonneine Zapata: Cast the Demons Out


RIYL: Concrete Blonde, PJ Harvey, the Dead Weather

Jonneine Zapata is a femme fatale out of LA’s famed Silverlake district, but she’s taking a much darker road than recent peers like Jenny Lewis or the Watson Twins. Zapata’s sound is much more reminiscent of LA’s early ’90s alt-rock breakout band Concrete Blonde. Zapata often sounds like she could be a sibling of Concrete Blonde vocalist Johnette Napolitano, which is classy territory.

zapata

But Zapata needs to crank up the rock factor a notch, because eight of the ten tracks here are ballads or slow blues. She has a compelling voice and powerful charisma, as evidenced on lead single “Good Looking,” a simmering tune where Zapata’s mournful voice grabs the ear. But the song never takes off, which is unfortunately the case with most of the songs. “Worry” has the same problem – the intro is entrancing, but you keep waiting for the song to kick in and it never does. Still, many of the tunes have a cinematic sort of appeal, as if taken from the soundtrack of some dark, twisted David Lynch flick.

A notable exception is “Burn,” a mid-tempo rocker composed of just a basic riff over a basic beat, but that’s all Zapata needs to propel her voice to a higher realm. The other rocker is “Cowboy,” which is downright heavy, features burning psychedelic guitar and has some serious punk attitude from Zapata. The smokey “2, 3, 4” is a highlight too, a slow burning blues song with some shimmery guitar that showcases Zapata’s mesmerizing quality when singing about what seems to be unrequited love.

Why there aren’t a few more rockers on this album is a puzzling mystery, especially considering the powerful set that Zapata and her band threw down at the Red Eyed Fly during Austin’s SXSW Festival in March. Zapata seems to come from a haunted place, so maybe she needed to cast these demons out before she can really open up. But it would be nice to see her hook up with a producer and/or creative partner who can help her fully realize the rock goddess that is clearly within. (Laughing Outlaw Records 2009)

Jonneine Zapata MySpace page

  

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