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Album Review

Artists who are difficult to categorize can be challenging for marketing people at record companies, but for adventurous listeners who don't have to coordinate marketing campaigns, they can be a lot of fun. Zach Deputy is that type of artist. Sunshine is not an easy album to categorize; soul, funk, rock, gospel (African-American gospel more than Anglo-American country-gospel), blues, and hip-hop are influences, but so are reggae, ska, calypso, and soca. Deputy gets a lot of his inspiration from the United States, but the Caribbean has also greatly affected the South Carolina native as a singer, songwriter, and guitarist. So does Sunshine belong in the rock/pop bins, the R&B bins, or the world music bins? That's hard to say. But what one can say with certainty is that this 2009 release is a pleasure to listen to, especially if the listener has eclectic tastes. Deputy is especially soul/funk-minded on "Games," "Cool Yourself Off," the title track, and the sweaty, James Brown-influenced opener "Fresh Street," while "Stay" almost sounds like a gospel tune with secular lyrics. But his love of roots reggae (of the lovers rock variety) asserts itself on "The Way You Make Me Feel" (not to be confused with the late Michael Jackson's 1987 hit), and "Twisty Twisty" has a strong calypso/soca flavor. Occasionally, Deputy's lyrics rely a little too heavily on ‘70s soul clichés; on "Real," for example, he sings: "Give me something that's real, baby/Give me something I feel, baby" (and he does so without irony). But even at his most clichéd, Deputy is never boring — and in the grand scheme of things, those occasional clichés are only a minor consideration. Deputy has managed to give us a 51-minute CD that is unpredictable but is also fairly consistent; he is certainly well worth keeping an eye on.

Sunshine, Zach Deputy
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