Dan Zura
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Dan Zura

Band Alternative Singer/Songwriter

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May
24
Dan Zura @ Casa De Chris Listorti, 62 Coulter st

Old Saybrook, Connecticut, USA

Old Saybrook, Connecticut, USA

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Throw discs by Jeff Buckley, Devendra Banhart and the Violent Femmes' Gordon Gano into a blender, then randomly re-assemble the pieces, and you might end up with something like What Moves You Kid, the debut from Montpelier singer-songwriter Dan Zura. Recorded live over two afternoons in March 2006, the album is a playful, sometimes melancholy effort, featuring some truly endearing snapshots of the songwriter's life. However, Zura fails to completely distinguish himself from his influences.

The CD opens with "Good Socks," a country-blues song that showcases Zura's ability to pluck away on his guitar while sweetly crooning. "I'm gonna scrub my table today / I'm gonna scrub my table / Ain't doing no dishes / I leave them where they lay," Zura sings. It's a carefree, if safe, introduction to a record that later changes vibe for the better.

"New Eyes" is a far more interesting selection. The slow, minor-key number is reminiscent of the more somber cuts on Neil Young's classic After the Gold Rush. Over sparse instrumentation, Zura uses his quivering voice to fine effect. The sober mood is enhanced by a few choice lyrics: "It's a hard day when it's true / That someone you love don't love you / And someone you don't love, loves you," he sings. It's definitely an album highlight.

In "Boring Mamma Rag," Zura explores a classic New Orleans sound. The song has a couple of interesting changes, but unfortunately is a little too mild-mannered. This might have something to do with the title.

Zura employs a familiar rag structure on "Snowdrops," and to stronger effect. Despite its relative simplicity, the song is remarkably well crafted, its down-to-earth sound enhanced by Zura's tasteful harmonica playing.

He really hits his stride on "I Can't Find the War," a soft-spoken reflection on the cloudy nature of our current military engagements. Zura's personal confusion and wariness will likely ring true for many listeners.

The real strength of What Moves You Kid lies in this songwriter's earnest performances. In an era of computer-based edits and post-production gimmicks, it's nice to hear an artist so committed to his material.

MATT SARACA - Seven Days weekly, Burlington, VT


Discography

- What Moves You Kid, LP, 2006

- 'Jesse' from What Moves You Kid , featured on Big Heavy World's "In Silver Light" compilation, 2007

- 6 streaming tracks on www.myspace.com/danzura

- 4 streaming tracks at www.danzura.com

Photos

Bio

I was given a hondo electric guitar on my eighth birthday. I wanted to rock. I tried to take lessons for about a year, but i didn't want to practice, I wanted to rock, so the lessons didn't last. Nonetheless I continued to play by ear, figuring out songs from my parents' old records, Zeppelin and Inna-godda-da-vida and such.
Over the next eight years or so, my musical experiences we're quite erratic. I got into punk and played in a fast loud band; I later did a lot of improvisational lead and rhythm playing with friends on bass and drums.
Between these periods I heard Elliot Smith's self titled record, which i played to death, and Bob Dylan's greatest hits volume II, songs from which continue to blow my mind.
I gradually took to the acoustic guitar and began to accompany a friend on the songs he was writing. At 17 I began writing my own songs. Angsty teenage songs with an ear for odd melodies and progressions.
After moving to Vermont i continued to write and began performing at open mics and busking. Soon I had two weekly afternoon cafe gigs, which was an invaluable experience. In these relaxed, familiar environments, with an ever-changing audience, i was able to take chances, write on the spot, completely alter a cover song or a song of my own. This was also a perfect opportunity to explore the dynamic between audience and performer. Yeah. Weekly gigs rule.
In 2006, i had a bit of a writing frenzy and quickly wrote almost an album's worth of material. These, along with a few songs written over the previous couple years, became What Moves You Kid, a self-released full-length cd. I had a few hundred copies pressed and packaged them by hand with a few friends. I sold almost the lot of them at my next few shows. I then bounced around the country for a bit, and ended up back in my native Connecticut. From here i intend to subtly conquer the world.