Album Reviews

Art Zavala Jr. and The Little Magic Band ‘Out of the Morning’

Artwork: Paloma Montoya

Initially starting as recordings in February of 2016, Art Zavala Jr. has kept his project Out of the Morning a secret for the most part, even with the members of the band. The Inland Empire artist, who also lends his time in engineering and throwing shows as part of the collective, The Up&Up Studio, came to the point where his project was finally ready for the public. During the midst of local shows thrown at The Up&Up Studio, Zavala would simply ask for musicians to collaborate with during his solo set, which ultimately led to the creation of the “Magic Band.” The 10-track collection features a variety of artists, such as Avi Buffalo, Jean of Smiling Beth, and Art Avila from Cholo Orange, who eclectically add the heart that is heard on this project.  Out of the Morning is refreshing and finds its way comfortably into a listener’s ears through the mundane, and at times, repetititive sounds in the local music scene.

Opening with an illusive jingle, “Lillians Lullaby” carries a simplicity that doesn’t quite set the tone of the album, but allows for a heightened peak of interest to carry on. Immediately as the last keys are played “The Breaks” welcomes the album to a different direction. Carrying a nostalgic heartbreak, similar to it’s classic rock composition, “The Breaks” soulful charm are led by the crisp vocals of Zavala and softened with the sweetness of Smiling Beth’s vocals. Cleverly placed, “Faith Hill” seems to pick up on the obscurity of “Lillians Lullaby” in a refined manner. Continuing the similar tone of nostalgic heartbreak, “What are you waiting for” showcases an insane amount of vocal control by Zavala and relaxed rock sounds.

Besides the collection of genres and artists that seep throughout the album, what stands out on Out of the Morning  is the overall track placement and simply, refreshing soundscape that is heard individually. “I was initially going to release it a year ago but it didn’t feel right. I think the band wondered if it would ever come out,” explains Zavala on the creation and release of the album. Knowing of this hesitation proves this underlying backbone to Out of the Morning, specifically heard on one of the strongest tracks in the collection, “Closing Song.”

Precisely being 6 minutes, “Closing Song” is a juxtaposition to it’s given name. The shifts in tempo and builds allow for sonic melts and a raise in excitement, as the upbeat and tight drumming open the platform wider. This truly defines the second half of the album and changes it’s use of energetic builds, allowing each artist to shine on the track. An explosive lead guitar is repetitively strummed by Avi Buffalo, falsely closing the track. The transition and gradual halt of momentum is then unraveled into another world of sounds, this time led by Art Avila on trumpet; highlighting the beauty of collaborations.

To You” and “Why won’t the world change” both contain a hidden blues twang that always peaks from Zavala. The emotive and heartfelt tracks showcase powerful guitar work at hand and deeper meanings to the project. “Faith Mound” picks up the pace to brighter days from the start with Jean’s (Smiling Beth) vocals and Matt Hopf’s tropical percussion flare. The two minute track reminds a listener of the creative musical talents that are on the album, while still sticking to Zavala’s sound. It doesn’t place anyone higher or lower but simply acts as the surrounding platform for the bigger picture.

Ending, goes to the last two tracks which cohesively completes unraveled ends. “The Waves” hits you in sections, blending alternative keys towards this soulful blues heart. It’s light, and almost dreamy exposure becomes hauntingly beautiful. Fading out, the last of “The Waves” bleeds into a self-reflected mirage of audibly coarse vocals known as “Es Un Sueno.” The track leaves you with a sense of completeness, despite it’s short nature.

Out of the Morning is a warm and tender feeling that was perfected by life, hesitation, and creative geniuses.

Stream now on all major platforms, or on Bandcamp via Moon Chair Records.

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