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Zinfidelity, Vol. 1

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Album Review

Singer/songwriting guitarist Rusty Zinn shifts gears on his fourth album, and first in nearly five years, to become a blue-eyed, red-headed soulman. That's not to say he abandons the jazzy, guitar-slinging West Coast/Texas swinging sound that dominated his first three releases. In fact, the second track, an original called "Treat You Like a Queen," shows that style is still a primary influence. But Zinnfidelity, Vol. 1 highlights Zinn's love of classic '70s-styled R&B, focusing on his soulful vocals and sizzling arrangements that wouldn't have been out of place on Howard Tate's magnificent debut. To that end, he dusts off obscure sides from Tiny Powell ("Get My Hat"), Sammy Taylor ("Ain't That Some Shame"), and Ricky Allen ("Talkin' Bout You"), all songs that should have been hits but were buried on rare 45s. Zinn attacks them with fresh energy, sticking to the original arrangements but injecting youthful enthusiasm and real emotion into the lyrics. A fan of reggae, he goes all Jimmy Cliff on his own "Put Your Hand in Mine," recalling classic Jamaican music with its horn charts, loping beat, and compressed yet rhythmic drum sound. "Zinn Bootyism" takes its title from its blaxpoitation '70s approach — a cool, sexy, and funky detour sprayed with afro-sheen pseudo-hip urban speak that doesn't really mesh with the rest of the disc, but is a lot of fun. He also shifts into '60s slow-dance mode on the ballad "In Your Dreams" and the closing a cappella doo wop "Love Him or Leave Him." It's an unusual but appropriate way to end an album that marks an exciting new beginning for an established talent who has been overlooked because his previous releases didn't do him justice or adequately demonstrate his range. That has been rectified on this solid and frisky album, which gives Zinn a new lease on life.


Born: 03 April 1970 in Long Beach, CA

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '90s, '00s

A young, red-haired guitarist with a monster tone and technique that belies his relatively young years, Rusty Zinn grew up in the Santa Cruz mountains in northern California. He was introduced to classic R&B through his mother's collection of 45 singles, which included rare discs from Fats Domino and Elvis Presley. While in his teens, his brother brought home recordings by Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf, and these proved to be a revelation for the young blues aficionado. He would empty his pockets...
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Zinfidelity, Vol. 1, Rusty Zinn
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