Saul Zonana, Phatso [20and20 Music]

November 1, 2010

bp1110_bn_rec_Ph_nrWho is Saul Zonana? There’s no short answer. A longtime New Yorker now based in Murfreesboro, Tennessee; a former sideman bassist for Ace Frehley of Kiss; a mix engineer on Adrian Belew’s most recent live album; a big-time-session quality lead singer and guitarist; and a songwriter who’s been independently releasing solo material for ten years. But before all that he was just a bassist who really dug Paul McCartney—and it shows up in the best possible way on his latest self-produced album, Phatso. Zonana’s slightly progressive, psychedelic power pop songs are absolutely infectious, serving as perfect vehicles for bass lines like “Mr. Pulsfuss” and “Direction” that conjure up melody and drive eighth-notes as skillfully as Sir Paul ever did. (Yes, really.) And the mix is delicious, a huge collective landscape with plenty of sweetness on top and enough clarity down low for Zonana’s expert melodic sensibility on the bass to shoot right through. So who is Saul Zonana really? How about a brilliant songwriter/producer/engineer who happens to be a great bassist, guitarist, and lead singer? Accurate or not, we should all have such problems defining ourselves.

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