album review::Zookeeper: Becoming All Things

With Mineral and The Gloria Record, Chris Simpson made music that was great for a certain time, and as a result many adore those bands. Chris Simpson then went underground for a while. In fact, many thought he would never be seen again, but after a few years of decompression, he has reconstituted himself, making his return with his latest project Zookeeper and their debut long player Becoming All Things. It becomes quickly evident from the time the album is thrown on that this isn’t a record easily categorized in some cliquish subgenre. On the contrary, Becoming All Things is a record for all times, basing itself around good song writing, lots of feeling, and abundant melody. This is a much more straight forward approach by Simpson in terms of song construction and it comes across as well worn and much appreciated. The music has the feel and implied comradary of groups like Golden Smog and Travelling Wilburys, who exist for no other reason than for the enjoyment of making music. While the album has many draws, this particular charm is especially evident on opener “Snow In Berlin,” dressed in full regalia with a sweet harmonica, and “Ballad Of My Friends,” with its celebratory horns. These are both barn burners that thump and hum and make you want to smile. The feelings start to get a little more heartfelt on “Trumpets,” which has a driving rhythm that seems penned for long reflective drives on days when something is burning you on the inside. As far as touching numbers go, Becoming All Things climaxes with the softly stroked acoustic guitar and piano centered “On High,” which is just wonderfully filled with yearning and a floating atmosphere that fades to complete nothingness, only to briefly seep out again. “Boy & The Street Choir” incorporates a more singular feel with spare music also guided by the piano. The keys then take center stage again on vampy instrumental interlude “Al Kooper’s Party Horn,” which is the album’s most flamboyant tune. There is much more to find here on Becoming All Things, but that is all pleasure to be had for the listener who makes the journey. Finally, I can’t imagine i’ll be pulling out any Mineral or Gloria Record albums in the near or far away future for that matter, but at the same time I can’t conceive that i’ll ever want to put Becoming All Things away.



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