Americana Hero

Mark Zubia is one of the most talented singer-songwriters in the Valley. He's seen some success with his Americana bands Los Guys and The Chimeras, but his solo work is equally compelling. Here we have 10 tunes, all of which manage to tell a story alongside a nice melody, in less than four minutes each. The opener, "I Don't Know," is a lush's lament wherein Zubia croons "I don't know what I'm thinking/Doing all this drinking," while slide guitars cruise in the mix behind the chorus, creating a winsome, melancholy vibe — the kind you get when you're standing on the edge of a huge canyon by yourself, staring at some incomprehensibly vast expanse of desert at dusk. "I Wonder" is a song about filling in the blanks of a stranger's story just by watching them across the bar. Musically, it's a smooth alt-country tune, the kind of listless ditty Lucinda Williams might write after staring out her kitchen window in Louisiana. Zubia's voice is smooth and reminiscent of former Screaming Trees singer Mark Lanegan's deep velvet pipes, which works perfectly for the down-home, porch-chill vibe he's got going in his songs. Zubia proves he's capable of creating danceable songs, too, with "Back to Zero," a jangly rock crossover with a stunning Rhodes piano solo. The album ends with "Bar Star," a barn-burnin' number that pokes fun at pretentious rockers while showing humility about headlining the club circuit. After so many years in the local music scene, Zubia was able to bring in some old, notable friends for Parts of Yesterday, too. Instrumentalists include bassist Paul Cardone (Chocolate Fountain), Scott Andrews (The Chimeras), and Steve Larsen (Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers).
Wed., May 20, 9 p.m., 2009
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