Zachariah Smith is the solo project of Zachary Lapierre. Lapierre is the bassist and co-songwriter/vocalist of the Massachusetts-based band Freres Lapierre, but his “Zachariah Smith” project is currently based in Brooklyn, NY. Freres Lapierre is a band which letshim express full-band indie rock songs while the solo side of things focuses more on intimate folk tunes. It’s mainly acoustic-guitar-based but some exciting instruments make occasional appearances.
Zachariah Smith’s latest ten-track release entitled Super L opens with “Intro.” It’s a little acoustic guitar instrumental coupled with a neat harmonica solo and twinkles of what could be glockenspiel or synthetic bells. Whatever the case, it sounds like the perfect opening track for some cool little indie film. Of course, it’s early doors at this point, and it’s hard to tell from a “safe” two-minute opener whether Lapierre is going to be all that. The second track puts me at ease in this regard.
“Danny’s Orange Jumpsuit” is driven by a cool acoustic chord progression and muffled-megaphone-esque vocals. It seems almost bluesy at moments but mainly opts for the indie-folk route. Throbbing percussion bursts in and out of view at moments, as do organ chords. I’m not sure how many of you have heard of this band, but if you’ve ever listened to Neutral Milk Hotel and loved them then you’ll love Zachariah Smith. Lapierre captures the essence of folk music but dresses it in a unique little package much like that band does. The vocals are captivating; minimal, skeletal music relies on strong vocal hooks, so Smith really nails that. I’m still waiting for a track which truly builds up into an epic climax and blows me away, but it’s a strong and steady start to the album.
“Three Six Four” is a short piece driven by shaking tambourines, energetic percussion, a softly strummed acoustic guitar, and harmonic vocal melodies. Lapierre overlays his lead vocals with sweet falsetto in the background. I’m totally digging this vibe, and there’s something very therapeutic about this sound. It isn’t all that different from the previous two tracks, but that may not be a problem for big folk fans; it’s definitely easy-listening music, and it’d be the perfect accompaniment to a long car journey.
“Ezra & Alex” is the first song which touched me on an emotional level (as well as being a great musical piece much like the tracks on the rest of the album). There’s something melancholic about the vocals which blends well with the stripped-back and simplistic acoustic guitar melody. It’s not slow, sombre, and dull - it’s fast-paced, energetic, and up-lifting. It’s still folk music, but there’s a real energy to it.
There’s a lot of similarity in terms of the tracks in this album. Folk music is more about the energy, passion and story. Lapierre’s vocals and lyrics convey all of these things and they’re packed full of emotion. Still, in terms of the music itself, Lapierre does throw in harmonicas, organs, a little percussion and even the occasional electric guitar. For the most part, he leaves all of that out and saves it for his indie rock band. This album is all about songwriting and creating an individual piece of art which expresses Lapierre’s emotions. He does those things well.
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