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CD Reviews:  Saul Zonana: Guinea Pigs


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Infectious rock/pop music can be like a stick of gum. Some of it is so sugary sweet when you pop it in your CD player the flavor wears off immediately. Then there is the kind with the so-called flavor crystals, where little bits of flavor keep coming out, extending your own enjoyment of what you’re chewing. I’m saying this because Guinea Pigs, the second CD from New York-based singer/songwriter Saul Zonana, is the kind of melodic pop music that not only sticks in your head, but has varied arrangements and production to the point where the musical flavor lasts a long, long time.

The opening track, “Bette,” is a hilarious guitar and vocal harmony-laced satire about a blow-up doll. “Fool on a Bicycle” starts out with swirling guitars and bass, and somehow Zonana’s scratchy tenor voice mixes with slightly retro arrangements to give it a modern day Tubes kind of sound. “Afraid of Dying” has an Elvis Costello meets Counting Crows vibe, and “All Together Now” just makes me want to roll down the windows and drive really fast. “Joel’s Song,” a tribute to the life of a loved one who has passed, is the best song on the album; I say tribute because it’s not a sad song, but an upbeat one with the message that this person is done suffering. “The Same” is an acoustic guitar-driven piece that really shows off Zonana’s ability as a songwriter to put chords and melodies together that you think you’ve heard before, but really haven’t; and “So Much Better” is another solid track with singsong guitars offering much candy for the ears.

The only drawback is Zonana’s overuse of an AM radio microphone sound, but the overall sound and songwriting more than make up for it. As a kid growing up in New York, I related to pop music on the radio, when artists like Billy Joel and Paul Simon wrote unique, hooky music with a New York attitude about it. Saul Zonana’s music has that quality and at times there’s even some Lennon/McCartney brilliance.

Guinea Pigs is also available at and check out Saul's website!

~Mike Farley 

other Saul Zonana reviews:
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