Uncomplicated, honest and real, Steven Zane showcases his originality, heart and soul on his debut album, I Close My Eyes.
His story is just as real as the music he creates; it is the quintessential story of a struggling artist who has faced down the odds and beaten them.
He discovered his faith and the strength it gave him through the support of his loved ones and the belief in himself and his music, he said. Zane, like some of today's upcoming came into the business the old-fashioned way-he was born into it.
Growing up in the 1970s, Zane always had music as part of his life, especially since his mother was a singer and his father played the drums. Some of his favorite sounds came from listening to great melodies from his favorite bands, like the Beatles, The Stones, The Beach Boys and Simon and Garfunkle, and being totally captivated by this. It was then the music began to seep into his soul, overwhelming him so much he decided to pick up a guitar, he said.
Zane first picked up a guitar at age 12, when he and his friends picked out chords, riffs and bass lines of popular rock songs and practiced and memorized them.
By age 16, Zane had written his first song and joined a garage band. The band was a dream; he was doing something he loved, and he enjoyed playing with the band for a couple of years. But playing improvised jams was not paying the bills, and reality began to hit at the age of 18, he said.
Zane realized in order to support himself, he had to get a real job, and music took a back seat. However, his desire and passion to pursue his music did not lie dormant for long. He soon formed two diverse bands in a range of different genres, one an electric garage band, the other an acoustic trio.
It was an exciting time, as Zane was not only managing his time working a fulltime job, but also splitting his time between two bands and a blossoming social life traveling, partying and going to concerts checking out local bands at various venues.
He was slowly learning more about the business, how hard it can really be, and sometimes he had to make some hard and difficult choices, Something had to give, and the electric garage band disbanded, so Zane decided to continue with the acoustic trio.
"There is just something about the sound of an acoustic guitar, so warm, so clean, so natural" he said. The acoustic guitar is an uncomplicated and versatile instrument and a great tool for the acoustic trio as it could be taken anywhere, from parties to the park, allowing for flexibility.
The trio was shortlived and soon became a duo called "Steve and Mike." The duo continued for a few more years, writing and playing informally around Chicago as well as playing with other artists, but as marriage and family became Zane's first priority, once again his music had to take a back seat.
After struggling to maintain his fastpaced life and balancing career and family, Zane's energy and creative juices were stifled, and he found himself at another crossroad. This time he decided he needed to quit his job, so supported by his wife and focused on his music, the love he felt for his family poured from his heart onto the page, and he created music that erupted and flowed out of him like lava. This showed no signs of stopping as song after song came forth and went into his debut album..
In the summer of 2005, Zane took his creative energy and put it to work in the studio, where, with no formal training and knowledge, he began recording new and old songs and laying down tracks, and in December 2006, I Close My Eyes was released.
I Close My Eyes is a true gift of heart, determination and realism, with beautiful, well thought out arrangements; almost every track begins with an instrumental piece and is chock full of solos and haunting melodies featuring a pleasant blend of acoustic guitar and bass and violins that dominate the album's construction.
Acoustic rock is alive and well, and I predict will be working its way back onto the mainstream music scene. Like artists like Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young to James Taylor, Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan, Zane has taken acoustic folk rock to a new level, adding elements of Celtic and Irish influences on songs like the album's title track "I Close My Eyes" and "Hush My Baby" and "Courtyard Duet".
"I Close My Eyes" begins with a short instrumental followed by very spiritual and calming melody and Zane's distinguishing voice, a great opening track.
The next track, "Hush My Baby," might be the sweetest. It is a bright, hopeful, lullaby sung sweetly, softly and honestly and with such emotion the listener can feel the tenderness emulating from Zane's voice. Finally, "Courtyard Duet" is a bit misleading after hearing the piece. It is strictly an instrumental piece, a nice touch and interesting addition to the album, and though beautifully performed with elements of violin and acoustic guitar, it seems a bit out of place in relation to the rest of the album, as though it were a last-minute addition or filler.
This album is filled with a lot of heart, and sacrifice that no doubt will pay off. It is eye-opening music that shows off both Zane's talent and passion for songwriting, as he has created heartfelt melodies no one can soon forget.
CD Review in Lerner Newspaper:
Good friends inspire good songs
March 29, 2007
Skokie native Steven Buzil -- Steven Zane when he's performing -- will be the first to tell you that he didn't get into music for bucks. Quite the contrary: it's a labor of love, largely inspired by his those who have significantly impacted his life.
A stay-at-home dad of two who now lives in Northbrook, Buzil used to be in the messenger business but after his second child was born, he decided to devote his energies to raising his family and putting out albums. His debut CD, "I Close My Eyes," came out in December, and he's already hard at work on his second.
Buzil got hooked on music as a youngster, thanks to his two older brothers and an older sister. "They were always playing music, and at an early age I recall being moved by it. Certain songs just affect you emotionally," he said.
Like many of his peers, Buzil decided to do some music-making on his own and played in garage bands with a few of his buddies.
Out of the blues
"I remember being at a friend's house one time, and this guy was painting his house," he said. "It turned out he was an old blues musician, and he came in and played guitar. I was in awe."
The experience stuck with him, and Buzil began writing and performing locally at area venues. After his kids were born, Buzil began writing lullabies for them. Though they're now eight and five, he still puts his children to bed by strumming on the guitar.
"I decided I wanted to preserve the music I wrote for them, so I started recording it," he said, "I started a MySpace page and posted some songs. Before long, I was getting emails from people all over the world saying they liked my music."
Buzil went on to formally complete his project. The full-length album, which is available on www.cdbaby.com and through his site, www.myspace.com/acousticpoetry, features all self-penned songs. Among them is "Angels of Love," an emotional tune with lyrics inspired by his children, a friend was killed at the age of 23 and a high school friend who committed suicide.
"It's just musically beautiful," he admitted.
Also on the album is "The Times is Coming," a piece he wrote while he was watching TV with the sound down.
"The news came on, and the images were flashing in front of me," he remembered. "Before I knew it, the music and lyrics came to me so fast I couldn't keep up."
Jim Godsey, a Palatine resident who recorded and co-produced the album, said Buzil is part of a growing number of singer/songwriters who are intelligent and emphasize lyrical content.
"His music," Godsey said, "is definitely geared toward an adult audience, and it's deeply relaxing. It's very different and not cookie cutter like what you hear on the radio."
For information on 'I Close My Eyes" by Steven Zane, contact him at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jazz It Cafe, 4202 W. Irving Park Road, Chicago. Call for show times. (773) 777-7002.