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  Fury and Spin
Artist: Jacob Zachary
Label: Unseen Records/ Independent
Length: 56:25

Like many of his contemporaries in the folk-rock genre, Jacob Zachary’s freshman LP utilizes various forms of instrumentation and gentle folk melodies to craft a friendly, smooth atmosphere in his songs.  But even though Fury and Spin does indeed fit quite snugly in the folk-rock section of the record aisle, I haven’t heard anything so subtle and intelligent in its lyricism and melodies, so impressive in how it stands up to scrutiny from every conceivable angle, in a long, long time.  The fact that this is an independent release without national distribution  makes it even more impressive--listening to Fury and Spin for the first time felt like I had struck pure gold in a mountain full of fool’s gold.  

He’s been compared to John Mayer and the late Elliot Smith, but Jacob Zachary has achieved a sound all his own.  Fury and Spins’ songs stay at a relatively walking and/or crawling pace, balancing between mildly poppy, upbeat numbers and more ethereal, slowly paced gems.  “End of You” combines vocal harmonization with a warm mid-tempo melody to create an absolutely delightful listen. “Human” rides almost entirely on a single, gently flowing melody.  The song doesn’t even have a real chorus, but it doesn’t need one; the lyrical lines and lead melody are that stirring. “Back to Life (A Dirge)” is the most atmospheric number of the record. It deftly drifts from a somber opening lead in and verse into an uplifting, starry chorus.  It expresses the epiphany found in the lyrics perfectly:

Start me over
Blow my cover
I’ve taken all I can
If it’s too much
It’s not enough
It’s more than I can stand/
And I feel, it’s bringing me back to life….
The album closer, “Like Love Itself,” is an expression of deep affection: 
When warmth is done
With the sinking light
Such as we loved
So shall we die
But don’t you leave this room
My lover
Before I do
My lover…
Jacob doesn’t ignore the most important love though:
Are  there ashes for your bread
Does weeping fill your cup
When an age like shadow spreads
And the grass is withered up
Run back to Zion
To the dust and to the stone
On the east I will come riding
I will meet you there alone…
"Ode to Zion”   
Fury and Spin may not impress on the first listen; it took multiple spins (awful pun intended) for me to warm up to the record.  But if you sit down and just give the music your full attention, I can’t see how anyone wouldn’t be impressed at how effectively Jacob Zachary mixes all of the instrumentation and harmonization in his song writing to produce a blanket of gorgeous, relaxing sound.  It’s music you actually have to listen to (waddaya’ know), but there’s really no effort involved on the listener’s part. The
music catches your attention perfectly well, and for all the right reasons.  

The record never devolves into watery-oatmeal or cheeseball lyricism. Its weakest track, “Loving You,” is perhaps mildly pedestrian (and probably the likeliest candidate for a radio single), but even the weakest tracks on Fury and Spin are still enjoyable and work within the song order.  Themes of lost love, the realization of a sinful nature and the need for God, overcoming the drudgery of everyday life, and other general themes of life and love are spread throughout the songs.  They certainly aren’t the most
original subjects, but it’s the way that Jacob Zachary presents them that makes the record so effective. It’s his meticulous attention to the beauty of subtlety and
sweet melodies, and lyrics that encourage you to unfold the cover flap and read along with the song that impresses me most.  

I’ve always felt it was the pithiest of scrutiny, but for those who really care a great deal about how much music they will be getting with the purchase, no need to worry-- Fury and Spin is nearly an hour long, capping off at thirteen tracks.   As far as the production is concerned, it’s solid--nothing sounds tinny or hallow.  I suppose Jacob’s voice could sound a little warmer overall, but it doesn’t hold back the music in the least.  Everything from the chalk on the blacktop cover artwork to the balance in the song order- feels solid and well thought-out.  It’s the fact that _Fury and Spin_ stands up even to pithy scrutiny that really knocks it out of the park. This is one heck of a record.

Jacob Zachary should be proud. he has a wonderful debut LP under his belt, an impressive first start that, though certainly great, hints at even greater things to come.  I think he is destined for stardom.  Here’s hoping (and praying) that he gets his break.  We truly need more high-quality artists of his kind in the Christian and secular music scenes. 

Jonathan Avants 4/15/05



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