Zachary James Dodds sounds too world-weary to be just 22 years old. On his debut five-song EP, Dodds, who also plays guitar for local folkies the Via Maris, spins vivid tales — both real and imagined — that would seem to belie his age. Behind sparse but eloquent arrangements, Dodds shapes stories more like an author at a typewriter than some dime-a-dozen wanna-be in a coffeehouse. Listen to the standout "If I Leave," in which Dodds sings of hit men, corrupt judges and trophy wives — colorful material from a culture he says he "stumbled into on my own through a bunch of chance circumstances" in the cryptic album notes. On "My New Friends," Dodds ponders young marriage and parenthood with stunning clarity and grace: "You weren't afraid to give your name away." Power of observation is one thing. But Dodds' true talent lies in his ability to bottle it in three-minute moments that dutifully capture the essence of his stories. With his material and budding promise as a singer/songwriter, Dodds owes it to himself (and us) to continue sharing what's in his mind's notebook.
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