Maria Mar’s Local Radar: Zak Smith

Hello, all of my local music scene lovers. It’s once again that time to chat about live shows, recordings, artists, tours and, of course, everything in between. The weather is gradually getting warmer, and we will be back to outdoor concerts in no time. There is just something about the warm weather that makes everything more enjoyable; nights are longer, drinks are colder, and the music is louder. We’re just holding out for a few more weeks until we can officially take off our coats and put away our boots!

In the meantime, however, there have been several artists that have been keeping the Local Radar hot, despite these polar vortexes we’ve been getting. This week, I am going to talk about an artist that may not be a stranger to you, for he has performed on an incredible amount of international tours and has quite the discography on his side. Having recently been named the “Best Male Vocalist Of 2013” at the Jersey Acoustic Music Awards, I think it’s safe to say Zak Smith is well on his way. But let’s not get it twisted: There are, naturally, some people behind him on that stage as well.

Upon researching artists, I always tend to listen to their older material first, granted they have some other music than what is currently out. I started off taking a dip in the EP entitled Haunted Feet, which really got me in the mood for more. This record really showcases him and his bandmates’ love for gospel and the timeless musicians of our generation. I highly recommend you give it a listen.

They have a lot of music in their catalogue, so I had no problem doing some back research and exploring a little further. Naturally, I don’t know Zak and his bandmates on a personal basis, however, I know talent when I hear it, and this is the real deal. To be honest, I heard one of Zak’s singles in the past and I really liked it, but I hadn’t really dedicated much time to it, since I tend to gravitate to a million styles of music. Plus, we cannot forget how many submissions I receive, and sometimes it’s tough to give the proper time to each one. However, once I heard this album through in its entirety, the light went on in my head, and then I proceeded to smack myself. Fantastic is the word I use to describe it to my friends.

I followed this disc up with his latest single, “Tombs Don’t Roll Back,” which can be found on his latest record, Precambrian Age. This entire record is almost like you are listening to a virtual diary. Judging by his lyrics, it seems as if he has seen and been through many personal and professional ups and downs, and many of them are explored throughout this release. Zak can take you to something angry and rough, and then completely twist it up on the next one with a beautiful, gravely, sexy sound. You’ll have the ride of your life on this emotional rollercoaster.

I think one of Zak’s most impressive assets is his writing skill. Coming from someone who reviews music, I always look into lyrics more than your average person. I feel like if an artist has the opportunity to give a listener their own interpretation of a song, or even put him or herself on a platform where they can express any sort of emotion through song, why wouldn’t you write your own material? I could go on for hours on that issue, but that’s part of the reason why I love the local music scene so much: Because people are doing things on their own, with originality, heart, and dedication.

Not only is the songwriting here excellent, but it coincides with a powerful, dominating voice filled with emotions of many kinds. It also helps that he is backed by a live band that is so powerful, oozing talent from every angle. I think my personal favorites on this record are “Doomed Youth” and “It’s Been A Hard Year Alone,” because these tracks are relatable on so many different levels. I guess a good way to describe his soulful style would be raw and broken down back to the basics. To dig a little deeper on this subject, their music makes you feel as if you are right in the room with them as they are performing, and it takes a rare and natural talent to be able to have that ability.

Be sure to also check out “Selling Out” and “Nowhere To Go.” These two tracks will have you completely swooning and addicted to their sound, and it’s literally happening to me right now. Please don’t let my suggestions stop you from indulging in the full entirety of this album, however. You must take it piece by piece and really explore it from start to finish.

From checking out his social media, it seems as if Zak is getting quite the buzz, with features, reviews, and interviews. For more information on them, check out their Facebook page at They are very active with their friends and fans on there, which is always important. After all, those are the people who make artists who they are. You can catch the Zak Smith Band live at Starland Ballroom in Sayreville on March 29 when they open up for 2U – “The World’s 2nd Best U2 Show.” And, of course, do not forget to pick up their new record, Precambrian Age. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

I will be back next week with some more local music that needs to be heard. In the meantime, do your part! Get out to a show, support a friend, a band, a solo artist, an art show, or even a local music shop! We’re all in this together, and that’s the beauty of the Local Radar and The Aquarian Weekly, supporting one act at a time! Plus, local bands, you know the drill: You can email your stuff for review or airplay at! I’m looking forward to hearing your requests. Cheers!