CD Review of The Garden by Zero 7

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The Garden
starstarstarstarno star Label: Atlantic
Released: 2006
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Zero 7, much like Alan Parsons, is not quite a band and not quite an artist, but more of a project. The British songwriting and production team of Henry Binns and Sam Hardaker make up Zero 7, and a few select vocalists and musicians are the cast of characters that bring their music to life. The latest effort from Zero 7, The Garden, is the duo’s third release, and while they may still be a relatively unknown name in the States, they did enjoy some under-the-radar success in the wake of a song (“In the Waiting Line”) landing on the “Garden State” soundtrack.

The best way to describe The Garden is not as a row of flowers or healthy vegetables that might be growing in that garden. It’s as a box of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts. The tunes are soft, airy, and sweet – with varying textures and layers of sound that give each one the proper amount of flavor. And just like biting into a doughnut, it’s easy to sink your ears into something that is as hypnotic as it is melodic – with just the right amount of guitars, keys and computers blending together – which is the crux of what Zero 7 is about.

Lead male vocalist Jose Gonzales shines on the opening track, “Futures,” and if you’ve ever been a fan of anything Alan Parsons has done, you’ll notice symmetry here, both vocally and musically. Gonzales gives the music an almost ‘70s pop throwback flavor, especially on the folk-infused “Left Behind” and Latin-flavored “Today.” Female vocalist Sia has a soulful Shakira-meets-Sade kind of vibe that breathes life into tracks like “Throw It All Away”, “You’re My Flame” and the slightly creepy “This Fine Social Scene.” There is also a fine electronic instrumental track, “Seeing Things,” which could either be the soundtrack to a high-speed spaceship chase, or to a writer sinking his teeth into a box of Krispy Kremes. Hey, this gig can make a man hungry, can’t it?

Zero 7 create more than just music to put on in the background. The Garden is a collection of songs that will put you in a mood, take you to a place, and make you dream all at once. Put this one in, and prepare to be soothed and seduced at the same time

~Mike Farley