Away at Sea: Navigating Life’s Depths with Zach Blew

Zach Blew has set out to sea, on an honest journey through life’s trials and tribulations throughout his newest LP, “Away at Sea”. The themes encompass delving into both the past and the present, grappling with grief and heartache, and navigating the journey of identity and self-discovery. Zach Blew wears his heart on his sleeve, not withholding his process at all. His emotions shine on this record and are highlighted in his raw lyricism, proving a lighthouse of hope to all who listen. Following years of grappling with the intersection of spirituality and queerness, Zach Blew found liberation through delving into the healing properties of sacred plant medicine. He credits this medicinal journey as a transformative pivot in his life, profoundly impacting his songwriting process and culminating in his remarkable contribution to “Away at Sea.”The record was produced in Nashville by Kevin Ann Dye. Zach blew cites his top influences as Leon Bridges, Janet Jackson, Al Green, Madeleine Peryoux, Kimbra, Mindy Smith, and Patty Griffin.

Rock the Pigeon is proud to review this record.

The album begins gracefully with “Whirlpool,” enveloping fans in an orchestral prelude before Zach Blew’s ethereal vocals grace the speakers. His relaxed vocal style intertwines with a jazzy drum rhythm, acoustic bass, and all-star string section. Although this song is about wrestling with addiction and grief, it floats like a romantic daydream, evoking feelings of love and longing. It sets the ideal ambiance for a tender, slow dance. We even get a taste of Zach Blew’s gorgeous falsetto. Zach Blew let us know that this song wasn’t an easy one to write. In fact, Zach Blew started writing it in 2009, and it wasn’t until after he experienced more of life, and its growing pains, that he was able to complete it. It took on many different versions before arriving to the masterpiece of what it is now.

“The song that took the longest to write was Whirlpool. Whirlpool had about three different versions and titles before it became the final version that we hear today. I started writing whirlpool in 2009 and it was originally called “pretend that you’re in love with me”. I’m glad I waited and let this one marinate for that long because it finally reached its full potential and I needed to live a little longer to experience grief and heartache in order for it to arrive as this final mature version.” – Zach Blew 

Photo by Jon Jacobsen:

“Beacon” is a magical track that will bring hope to listeners. Written with his identical twin brother Cam Blew, Zach channels his strength and sense of resilience to craft a song about carrying on despite the darkness that life has brought. This song’s lyrics metaphorically speak about spotting the lighthouse on the shore, beaming its light, letting us know that the journey through rough waters has almost come to pass. Something new is coming. This song is filled with hope and empowerment. This song features surf rock style electric guitars, and an incredible string section arranged by composer Jay Sakong. Zach says: “We’re all searching for our own beacons, without light we wouldn’t be able to see the path before us. We rely on light or beacons to show us the way.”

The sonic magic continues on “Film,” a lo-fi R&B track that is highly sensual. This co-write is with Turrell Brown, continues on with nautical themes while exploring social media’s role in today’s modern age. Photoshoots are a popular way for queer artists to express their sense of individuality and artistry, while curating professional content for their social media profiles and websites. This song features a groovy bass line and a fun electric guitar part.

“Out of Pocket” quickens the tempo, introducing robust drums, amplified guitars, and a soulful yet upbeat vocal delivery. Delving into the theme of a relationship’s end, it captures the ambivalence of questioning the decision to leave while grappling with regrets. The bridge poignantly articulates the longing to revert to the familiarity of the relationship despite uncertainties about future happiness—a sentiment familiar to many. With its infectious vocal melody, this song captivates listeners across its nearly four-minute duration. “Candle” follows this song perfectly. Soulful guitars set the stage for a lullaby. Vocals that soothe the soul dominate the track, which features layers of electric guitars. Another reason why this song stands out so much on the record is because of the soul changing harmonies.

“Still In My System,” written with the co-writer Bboy Wicket, speaks about a codependent relationship that has an addictive quality to it. Zach Blew sings about how he is willing to give up just about anything for a crumb of attention. This toxic cycle carries on and on, even with the power of self-awareness. This song leans more towards 90s pop, including the use of danceable beat.
The poppy energy continues on the next track, “Bicycle.” This super contagious track is sure to be a gay anthem, so long as it can find its way to the right listeners. The bicycle is a double entendre for sexual intimacy. The song features a Bruno Mars-esque horn section that will pump up the listener. A surprising distorted guitar solo adds another layer to this very lively track!

“My favorite song to record was definitely Bicycle because the instrumentation lived entirely in my mind. There weren’t any backing tracks, and unlike all of my other other songs, this song was not written on guitar or accompanied by an instrument at first. When we sat down to record bicycle I literally hummed/mouthed the bassline, the drums, electric guitar riffs, and synths and my incredible Producer and multi-instrumentalist Kevin Ann Dye built the song entirely from vocal ideas. We also added a bridge last minute on the final day of recording and the bridge came together magically in about five minutes, lyrics and all. it was so fun to sing and show off on.” – Zach Blew 

Ever fallen in love with someone that doesn’t fall in love with your back? It’s one of the worst feelings in the world. Zach Blew sings all about it on “Mountain.” His smooth and soulful voice brings massive amounts of emotion to this love song. This song could fall into the pop country genre – a genre that is gaining in popularity since the release of Beyoncé’s Cowboy Carter. The song features electric guitars that channel the blues, adding more flair to this incredibly moving track. “Mountain” is some of Zach Blew’s finest vocal work, both in terms of vocal delivery and lyricism. “Second Son” continues on with the deeply emotional vocal deliveries and the country vibe, even featuring a slide guitar. This song will surely make listeners shed a tear.

“This song is dedicated to Adam and Will Cox. I’m an identical twin and my brother and I went to the same preschool as identical, twin boys Adam and Will. Tragically both Adam and Will passed away before they reached their early 20s. This song is written from the point of view of their mother, is absolutely heartbreaking. Visual and themes of loneliness, longing and grief. Co-writer is Cyndy Fike, and this version features Avi Vinocur from the folk Rock band Goodnight, Texas on harmonies.” – Zach Blew 

Zach Blew, wrote “Yes” about coming to terms with his sexuality and realizing his self-worth. I believe that many queer people can find empowerment and healing through this powerful song. This song is an incredible ending to the record because it makes listeners want to start from the beginning and hear it all again. The lyrics of the last track echo, “I understand where I’ve been, has brought me to where I’m going / to an amber sky / the circle of finding and leaving behind.”

“The song that matters to me, the most is “yes.” in a way, this song gave me the permission that I needed to think and dream and plan farther than I ever would have 10 years ago. As a queer person growing up in the oppressive South, I never really thought that things like establishing my own generational wealth, full social acceptance, living into my 80s, deep normalized connection and parenthood were things that were within reach for me. Yes helped me understand that Yes I am absolutely worthy of everything and anything, regardless of what society may say or how society may try to oppress me. I am not lesser than anyone, I can dream and hope and plan and live a normal long life just like anyone else, lord willing.” – Zach Blew 

Zach Blew’s album release show happens in one week on April 27th at the 04 Center in Austin, TX. Tickets may be purchased here. Be sure to keep up with Zach Blew via Instagram. Listen to “Away at Sea” on Spotify now:

Written by Ryan Cassata

The post Away at Sea: Navigating Life’s Depths with Zach Blew appeared first on ROCK THE PIGEON.

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