Zak Smith has had no problem making a name in the New Jersey music scene, and the singer-songwriter has continued to release music since 2007. The Montclair native has provided his live performance to audiences for years and has become a veteran to stages of the Northeast. Smith’s extensive experience in performing is demonstrated as he takes an acoustic approach for his newest release, Signs Of Life.
This album is incredibly crisp. Sounds come in clear; you can hear every strum, chime, and shaker. The acoustic guitar has the particular role of setting the easygoing ambiance for the record. Kept pleasantly melodic, the piano maintains a lighthearted feel. Smith’s raspy voice is contrasted by the delicate voices of the background singers. He has written lyrics that express empathy and heartfelt emotion; you can hear his honesty seeping into his singing.
Smith’s compassionate spirit is portrayed in “Have You Looked Outside.” The song serves as a reminder of worldly tragedies and inspires action. In “Minstrel Show,” the lyrics portray some of life’s hardships in true blues fashion, which reflects the number’s musical style. The strength of a relationship and how far one will go for love are described in “Raise The Moon.” Despite its simplicity, “Signs Of Life” manages to be one of the most touching tracks on the list, ending in a refrain saying, “You’re not alone.”
Simplicity has enriched every aspect of the record. The album is honest and transparent, opening room for connection between the musician and the listener. Taking musical inspiration from rock, alternative, Americana and blues, and combining it with a spirit of empathy, Smith is able to tug on heartstrings.