Before The Rain

“Before The Rain” reviewed by Donovan Johnson

The few times I’ve talked with Zachary on the telephone have been really great. Here’s an incredibly Spiritual, talented, and thoughtful young man with a passion for music and a dream to “make it happen.” Zachary is an inspiration to me, and to many of us in this genre of piano music. I applaud his efforts! “Before the Rain” is his first recording, and one of the best debut disks I’ve listened to if I’m to be frank about it. One can hear a musical consistency throughout the recording that invites you to warm places, and affairs of the heart. And it’s genuine. One can try all they want to reproduce music that comes from the heart, but it will always be lost in the translation. Especially in the recording process.
Zachary really likes to utilize the notes of the middle and higher register on the piano, rarely covering the low end of the instrument with any kind of intensity. This is actually a brilliant approach. It keeps the hands and the notes close together, the melodies noticeable, and the flow of the album extremely consistent. Creatively speaking it also provides for a very “sweet” sound in each of the tracks that is most pleasing to the ear. There is no dissonance, and the melody is never lost, which keeps the attention of the listener throughout the musical experience. It’s also clear that Zachary has some pretty solid technique. Although the songs themselves are not extremely complicated, the precision with which he plays his ornaments and musical passages is very clean and well put together. I wasn’t able to hear any quarter second glitches, bad notes or rhythms, etc.
The strongest tracks on the album, in my opinion, are tracks 1, 2, 6 and 9. “Before The Rain” begins with a lovely musical motif that does, indeed, seem to anticipate “the rain.” The rain of course, is what you decide it will be. There are some really great pop music licks throughout this track that appeal to the modern listener., and the fingers play in a very fluid and artistic style. The music in this piece speaks to us in a positive and uplifting way, almost as if we’re singing of the joy we experience in the knowledge of the blessings that are on their way.
Track two, “Faith Remembers,” sounds just like the title implies. The music is reflective, and thoughtful. It seems to almost drift away, or off course, as you listen. Then, Zachary gently brings it back to it’s starting place to resolve. Just as faith itself can sometimes stray, it remembers where it comes from and it returns. To write a piece with that kind of process is truly indicative of the depth that this young man possesses.
“Autumn Leaves” is a far cry from the jazz standard by the same title! Here is a piece that shows off Zachary’s technical abilities a bit more, with the right hand playing runs and passages that glide over the keys quickly and effortlessly. There is also a touch, and I do mean just a small touch, of Latin influence here. The ends of the phrases in several spots are played descending the scale in a syncopated style which sounds very much like the musical phrases used in a number of Latin styles. Brilliant!
“Dancing In The Rain” begins with a slow and quiet rubato section of music that brings to mind a gentle sprinkling of rain, falling down on someone who may be standing on a mountaintop, arms outstretched. The track then moves into a waltz style with a Celtic feel-the dance begins. Later in the piece the rain begins falling a little harder, and both hands join together to create an intense but lyrical pattern of sound that refreshes and rejuvenates the listener. The song ends with a ritardando on a minor chord, which is almost to ask the question “Will the dance ever come to an end?”
“Before The Rain” is a recording that will appeal to anyone who likes fresh, original piano music and who’s a fan of the genre. I highly recommend it. The album is an incredible feat for a first time recording, and I very much look forward to watching this young man blossom and seize all that he’s capable of. Well done Zachary, you’ve got a great, great journey ahead of you.
You can purchase “Before The Rain” through Zachary’s website at You can also find it at Amazon, CDBaby, Itunes, and many more websites!