Zarasutra – The Forest for the Trees (2017)

This time Zara brought her own acoustic guitar over — a Seagull that records well.

I started out thinking I would be adding more musical grace notes after playing a piano part on the last song on UNCERTAIN ASSERTIONS, only to end up contributing nothing on that side of things. Not that that’s a bad thing. You don’t always need bells and whistles. Think of the early Cat Power albums. Part of what makes them powerful is how naked and direct the recordings are. You almost feel like you’re eavesdropping on something you shouldn’t be hearing.

Even without any embellishment, I think there’s a bit more variety in the songs this time out. You even get a few ukulele-driven tunes. And who’s gonna argue with a ukulele? I mean, you could try, but you’ll never win an argument with a uke. There’s no way.

If you liked the first album, you’ll like this one. I might have done a better mixing job this time around too, even if it was arguably tougher to mix these songs. Especially with the ukulele songs, I had to ride the faders a lot to try and compensate for some big volume spikes when the playing got more aggressive, while keeping it dynamic and not taking the power away. Adding a lot of compression to even that out was going to dull the edges too much.

With a voice as dynamic as Zara’s, the best thing you can do is try to stay out of the way and let the magic come through. The hope is that I did that with the first album, and then again here.