National Music Reviews December 2015

Review: J Hacha De Zola – Escape From Fat Kat City

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J Hacha De Zola – Escape From Fat Kat City

J Hacha De Zola
Escape from Fat Kat City

Self-Released
Street: 01.08
J Hacha De Zola = The Hold Steady + Tom Waits + Soda Stereo

Most concept albums require patience and devotion to endure. Listeners must wade through an ocean of esoteric references to understand the album’s intent. More importantly, introspective music bores more than entertains. This is not so for the Latin-fused baroque pop solo-performer from New Jersey, J Hacha De Zola. Not since The Hold Steady’s Separation Sunday has a concept album provided both emotional depth and entertainment. “Strange” conjures the voice of Jim Morrison surrounded by a backdrop of Tom Waits–like carnival sounds. Capturing the sounds and visions of post-industrial New Jersey, “Hold Tight” blends cumbia rhythms and brass explosions over lead singer and multi-instrumentalist J Hacha De Zola’s bluesy croon. The piano balladry of “City Girls” reflects on the album title’s irony: There is no escape from Fat Kat City. –Stephan Wyatt