I hate paying bills, much less working hard to make enough to pay ‘em. Apparently Mike Zito isn’t much of a fan of such hard times either as his latest album, Today, a bluesy revue of hard times and redemption in the heartlands of America will recount to you. Americana Roots-Rock is a hard genre to perfect. If someone records within the framework of the style, they’d better be good, or at the very least, get it right. Otherwise, it is a weak effort and it shows. Usually, those albums end up ignored even in a bargain bin. But Mike Zito, has done better it than right…he’s created a bed of bright-hot coals that he has walked over time and again.
With gritty observations about life, composed into bluesy, alt-country tunes, Mike Zito puts to work his Hiatt-like voice over tracks that burn with the visceral intensity of his guitar playing. Today has thirteen tracks including a cover of “Little Red Corvette” (Prince). But before he drives that car out for show early in the album, he turns the amps up for runs at love and one-nighters. Although “Little Red Corvette” becomes a Zito song by the changes he runs the song through, it is still, at heart, a Prince song, and needs his inimitable delivery to enhance the metaphor, something that falls short with Zito’s version.
But the rest of Mike Zito’s album is a heated blast of originals that work for Zito as “Little Red Corvette” does as a song by Prince. There is a power in the words of “Universe” where Zito questions why we even need to trouble ourselves with concerns of our existence. Instead, he suggests that we just live and love. One of the better songs on Today is the captivating “Slow It Down,” where he asks that life be left to live as it unfolds.
Mike Zito has as much to say philosophically as he does musically. With his six-string, his voice, and his realizations, we get the benefit of listening to a friend impart his bluesy wisdom.