Album Review

Emily Zuzik--- The Tender EP

Emily Zuzik - Tenderly

Forgive me, Emily, but your song about the German impressionist painter Ernst Kirchner made me laugh. You see, there was this zine back in the day called Dopin' Dan about this dude who gets drafted into the Army which pretty much ran on potatoes which he peeled ad infinitum and... well, to make a long story short, there was an inserted comic strip about Harry Kirschner, which was not his name but what he said all the time. The Army drafted him and he reported for duty calmly repeating the chant which the clerk took for his real name. He skated through basic ostensibly a happy man and the people surrounding him, seeing his peace of mind, began chanting his name too until the post commander had him relieved of duty fearing a breakdown of military discipline. I thought it funny enough to laugh out loud every time I read it and Ernst's name was close enough for a knee-jerk reaction. I still laugh.

I don't laugh at the song, though. Zuzik was commissioned by a magazine (ESOPUS) to write the song, something you hear little about these days (Aaron Copland was commissioned to write “Fanfare For the Common Man,” for instance, for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, and Van der Graf Generator commissioned to write “Theme One” for the BBC). Here is what Emily wrote on her YouTube page of the song, titled simply “Ernst Kirchner”:

This song was commissioned by ESOPUS Magazine. It was an assignment (wherein) I could write about anything...related to a visual artist. I love the work of Ernst Kirchner (Die Bruck School of German Expressionists) and wanted to explore the thoughts of a Lady of the Night from one of (Kirchner's) Berlin street scene paintings.

There is more than a little Marlene Dietrich in it, a nod toward the European pop of the thirties and forties, maybe. Her voice is dipped in reverb, the instruments a cross between modern and a syrupy retro, a very interesting and eerie combination. I would love to see the painting, the inspiration for the song. I have yet to find out which painting, though I am prepared to ask.

The song is sandwiched between a soul-filled pop tune, “Tender,” in which saxes and organ drive a light Stax-oriented song which, while having the beat, is more pleasant than raucous, and a semi-rocking country song titled “Winter In California,” end pieces which show three sides of a very talented musician.  Those end pieces were written in collaboration with Geoff Pearlman who used to work with Shelby Lynne and now plays with Dead Rock West, presently getting quite the buzz among music aficionados.  

This may be a good place to start acquainting yourself with Ms. Zuzik but it is only a start. While researching her past, I found a plethora of recordings dating back to the year 2000 when she was in a group known as Sexfresh. (You can explore her music by clicking here) Not only that, I found that she has collaborated with a large circle of L.A. musicians which include Tim Lefebvre, Dan Navarro, Ted Russell Kamp, Shane Alexander and others with whom I am very familiar. Goes to show you learn something new every day. In fact, to illustrate how information really works, we connected because of the music of Pi Jacobs, another favorite of mine. I tell you, it never stops!

And it shouldn't.