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The WDVX Blue Plate Special – 2/7 – Zach Russell
February 7 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Each year, thousands of people flock to the city of Nashville with hopes of “making it”. Ironically, it wasn’t until Zach Russell made the decision to leave Music City, USA that he inked his first record deal with Thirty Tigers. The drive back home may have only been three hours long, but Russell’s journey back to old haunts in Eastern Tennessee isn’t quite that cut and dry.
In the 7 years preceding that trip down I-40, there were stints as a manager at a shoe store and a karaoke host. He calloused his hands installing irrigation systems and working as a carpenter. He traveled the US and Europe as Tyler Childers’ merchandise manager and got to witness firsthand what it takes to chase down greatness. Through it all, one thing that remained constant was his belief that he could chase it down as well.
Music has always played a pivotal role in Russell’s life. A background in Baptist and Hymnal music as a youth and a taste for hip-hop, rock, and country music informed his musical style between 2016 and 2020 as he found his footing. In 2021 the world received its proper introduction to Zach Russell as a fully formed artist with the release The Creek. This five-song EP proved not only to be a landmark release in Russell’s career, but with its lyrical depth, soaring instrumental jams and infectious melodies, it served as proof that this landmark was merely the first of many to come.
Since moving home and finding clarity, the past 18 months have been busy for Russell. He spent those months writing music, touring with The Alex Leach Band, and delivering a guest appearance on Adeem the Artist critically acclaimed album, White Trash Revelry. That wave of momentum has culminated to this moment, and the release of his highly anticipated full-length debut, Where the Flowers Meet the Dew.
Once again joining forces with up-and-coming producer Kyle Crownover (Adeem the Artist), this ten-song effort never takes its foot off the gas pedal. Dominant themes of wrestling with mortality, pondering reincarnation, and finding that ever elusive feeling of contentment in this life weave gracefully through.
As the old saying goes, “Big hitters take big swings.”, and Russell’s choice as the first single is as bold a statement as can be made. Coming in at a shade over seven minutes long, “Born Again” begins as a rockabilly banger, then midway through, via a psychedelic segue it morphs into a funky, groove heavy jam. Russell sings of reincarnation and hints that perhaps every waking moment is, in fact, an opportunity to start anew.
The first half of the record is filled with traditional waltzes (“I Thought I Was the Trees”, “Take Me Back to Tennessee”), haunting electric folk (“What You Want Comes to You”), and 60’s R&B style (“Milk & Honey”) cuts. Its deep, mellow, and the lyrics are contemplative. It draws you in while not letting the listener get too comfortable.
Beginning with the aforementioned rip-roaring lead single, the back half of the record brings with it an altogether different vibe. Greasy, distorted guitar licks pepper the back half of Where the Flowers Meet the Dew. “Playing House” fully displays his creative dexterity, and would be right at home on a post-grunge rock radio station, circa 1998, sandwiched between Matchbox 20 and Third Eye Blind numbers. Later, on “Nothin’ to Haul”, he boldly calls out the posers and wannabes that fill the Nashville scene.
Pullin’ up in your two-wheel drive
Pullin’ up trying to sell me a lie”
This is done lightheartedly, but there’s an underlying current filtering through the back half of the record that bristles with tongue in cheek humor, confidence, and all-out swagger. As a whole, Where the Flowers Meet the Dew is a remarkably ambitious effort that undoubtably demands and is worthy of repeated listens.
In 2018 Zach Russell packed his things and left a ten-year town to return to the sanctity of the wide-open spaces and dense forests of home. Returning to his comfort zone ultimately gave him the freedom to create something outside of it. Something beautiful. Something that will live forever. Where the Flowers Meet the Dew leaves zero doubt, Zach Russell has been born again.