Zach & Maggie – The Elephant In The Room (Self-Released)
Even three songs deep into The Elephant In the Room, the 10-song effort from husband-and-wife band Zach & Maggie, you’re still not sure what to expect as the album plays on. The opening title track, with vocals and violin supplied by Maggie sounds like a beautifully quirky They Might Be Giants cover (complete with accordion); while “Caesar Said To Brutus,” this time with Zach at the microphone, has all the hallmarks of Graceland era Paul Simon with a bit of a southern accent. And three songs in, “Bring A Banana,” about the coup in Cuba told through a monkey has a ridiculously catchy Caribbean vibe.
The hard to pin down nature of these songs just adds to the charm of this release. The album, according to the band, is made up of 10 distinct short stories and the musicians opted for a very collaborative vibe during the recording process. And that loose, free flowing feeling can be heard throughout the record, which is effortlessly joyful. Both Zach & Maggie are accomplished musicians in their own right having played alongside folks like Ricky Skaggs, Vince Gill, Alison Krauss and Chris Tomlin. That musicianship is front and center on the instrumental songs scattered throughout the record (“Happy Goat Lucky” and “Reach For The Mars,”) with Maggie on mandolin and violin and Zach on guitar and banjo.
The album remains hard to pin down even toward the end with Maggie’s sweet, pensive “Robin” and Zach’s earnestly beautiful “Settle Down,” sounding like the best James Taylor song he never wrote. Taken in its entirety, The Elephant In the Room is a remarkably original collection that flirts with everything from Americana to pop music, that manages to be both goofy at times and earnest at others; a truly creative endeavor that begs for another listen as soon as it’s over.