On his release Another Day (Eusonia Records, 2011), Zach Deputy demonstrates his remarkable ability to perform and record in multiple contexts. He proves beyond a doubt that he is a soul singer and a serious songwriter—not merely a “looper”1 with crazy chops, serious pipes and colorful outfits. Another Day offers another look at Zach Deputy and clearly seeks to help him cross-over into other audiences. Rich with ballads and mid-tempo humidity, the music on this recording is best described as soulful rhythm and blues, with flavors of Al Green, Taj Mahal and Stevie Wonder emerging in the swells, changes and modulations of the music, in the voice and even occasionally in the lyrical content. The record will appeal to fans of contemporary artists like Jack Johnson and Amos Lee, but the origins of the style and feel are classic.
As a boy, the music of Zach Deputy’s Puerto Rican, Cruzan and Irish heritage was cooked up in a South Carolina heat. The Calypso rhythms and folk songs of St. Croix competed with the R&B / soul of pioneers like James Brown and Ray Charles for space on the family stereo. As Deputy honed his craft, a unique hybrid of these influences emerged, ultimately creating the signature Zach Deputy sound. However, when Zach’s manager first turned producer Scott Jacoby on to some of Zach’s more funky, upbeat live performances, Jacoby simply didn’t hear it. The one-man-band live looping show features a more simplified version of Deputy’s music, and Jacoby was looking for songs, structure, changes, hooks, choruses… stuff that is nearly impossible to do by one’s self on stage with a nylon string Godin acoustic guitar, a handful of mics and a bunch of looping technology. Zach simply showed up at Jacoby’s studio with his acoustic guitar and sang a few songs and Jacoby was inspired—the urban-oriented dance album they had discussed was going to have to wait: he and Zach were going to make what they called a “Ray Lamontagne record”.
Recorded over 5 days in August, 2009 at Mission Sound Recording in Brooklyn, NY, Another Day emerged as a warm, mellow album that suits after hours and sunsets. It is possible that the only benefit to recording with a limited budget in a small window of time is that the raw essence of the session is not stripped away by weeks or months of second guessing and revision. The instincts and experience of the players is critical in sessions like this, and Jacoby chose the right guys to fill out the sound of the record.
To handle the ever-present Latin, Caribbean and African elements in Zach Deputy’s backbeat and place them in the contemporary soul / pop format of the songs, Jacoby tapped Graham Hawthorne (Aretha Franklin, Harry Belafonte, Joan Osborne, Paul Simon, David Byrne) for the drum kit. Bassist Al Carty came into the studio and explained to Deputy’s manager that he a little scattered, as he had played four church gigs that day. Despite the list of artists he has recorded or toured with (Lou Reed, Rob Thomas, Alicia Keys, De La Soul, Carrie Underwood, Gavin DeGraw, Me'shell Ndegeocello, Ashanti and more), the church gigs alone proved that Jacoby was on the mark with this choice for the low end. Zach Deputy is, after all, a soul singer whose music is underpinned by Gospel as much as by any other musical idiom. Equally at home in the Gospel tradition, pianist / organist Will Buthod (Jay-Z, Fat Joe, Alicia Keys, Swizz Beatz, Mashonda. The Harlem Gospel Choir) rounded out the studio trio that filled out Deputy’s vision for the recording, a vision made real by Jacoby’s pitch perfect choice of accompanists. These four accomplished professionals met for the first time on the first day of recording and worked as if they were old friends with a shared history and a common purpose.
In contrast to the music and feel of Another Day, Zach Deputy has made his mark as a touring powerhouse. The big, impossibly upbeat South Carolinian with the infectious smile puts on a solo show– enhanced by looping technology– that is essentially a one man dance party offering up "Island-infused, drum 'n' bass, Gospel-Ninja-Soul" to the enthusiastic crowd of dancers who pack clubs coast-to-coast. It is these late night dance parties—more than 250 per year– that have made Zach Deputy one of the hottest up-and-coming live performers and a favorite of the camping festival circuit and “jam band” scene. For Zach, most days begin in a hotel room and end a couple of hours after walking off stage, leaving a packed house of sweaty dancers calling for more. The constant touring and the compelling live show may be the key to Zach’s success on the road, but it is an unlikely inspiration for Another Day, as there is little similarity between what fans have come to expect from Zach and what is offered up in this new record.
Thus, Another Day is an appropriately titled album, and it is truly an album in the classic sense—a collection of songs that come from the same time and place, inspired by the same muse. Reflective and introspective, it provides a glimpse at the soul of an artist and the depth of a songwriter. Full of hope and anticipation of the promise of another day, a new day, it is a pivotal point in the career of a touring musician. Whereas it is a departure for Zach Deputy, it is one that he feels confident his fans can relate to, but it isn’t the end in itself. Deputy’s multi-faceted diamond gets one side polished in this offering, and it is a side that will shine brightly for a new audience.
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