19 Jun 2024
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C. Zukey - Album Review: Stone Fruit

18 May 2024 // A review by Sharne Molloy-Turpin

The sparkling new debut Stone Fruit by C. Zukey is a full-hearted reflection of feelings and a gentle sting of honest self-internalization. C. Zukey is a Canadian-born New Zealand artist who has something to say about love, resilience, and the power music has to heal. I’d consider his genre of music to be indie, but it has hints of folk and pop. The album has been produced by acclaimed New Zealand producer Mark Perkins, who has worked with other New Zealand artists such as Marlon Williams. And further recognition to Shannon Fowler for mixing this album. It also features instrumentation from Alex Freer (Tiny Ruins / A.C Freazy) and Finn Scholes (Carnivorous Plant Society). What I found most engrossing about C. Zukey’s debut is that it was fabricated from the emotional strings of his partner's hypoxic brain injury. This attests to how sincere and raw his music is. If you're a fan of Bon Iver or The National, you will enjoy this naturalesque artist.

The first track Happy & Healthy has a mellow yet blissful sound in an introspective way. But also, the melodies are bright and stimulating. It’s what I imagine a necessary self-care walk in the park sounds like when you might not want to accept petrifying emotions. It uses a simple rhyme lyricism with a soft tune “It’s hard when you're on your own…I just want you to pick up your phone”.

The song Water Temple sounds like what I imagine the synchronicity of nature would sound like, with all its rhythms between trees, plants, and insects. Maybe this is due to the floral album cover which shows C. Zukey with flowers in his hair amongst greenery. It’s almost like this song is a love song to nature but likewise could be for a person.

One of my favourites is Feel Alright which is dreamy in the clouds of good emotions, such as yearning to feel happy and being with someone irreplaceable. It is alien, with an out-of-space guitar beat. Its melancholy tone sounds most similar to Marlon Williams which I enjoy in particular.

Keep Love is the track that shows C. Zukey as an artist personally has a severe and profound commitment to love. With a sweet guitar rhythm like the taste of fresh fruit, it shows the gentle expression of the fear of losing love. “We had a plan to keep our love”. I like that it takes time to build momentum throughout the song. Its strength is the creeping tone of anxiety after you meet the love of your life. A very universal feeling that brings a level of relatability to the album.

Was I Ever Really Here // Last Place is the song that paints C. Zukey's vocal skills. He utilises a soft stylophone to balance with his tranquil voice, and further, the drums solidify the tone of the song. And just like the song prior, the use of building energy to a crescendo is a technique that works perfectly with his sound.

Braceless is a spoken word interlude that acts as a visual bridge that morphs into the next track Holy Water. This track is probably the strongest in guitar and stylophone. The blending of the two instruments with the lyrics “I’m standing on the edge now with you” is charming. It’s a psychedelic slow jam that ties in with the rest of the album well. C. Zukey says “Holy Water started as an acoustic ballad, but we weren’t digging how the recording sounded, so we decided to try something completely different and make it like a soft rock anthem with the stylophone solo at the start! Then it went through a complete restructure, and it totally changed the sound and feel of the song."

Then there is Leave My Body which is the song I can see most being played in front of a swaying crowd. C. Zukey layers his vocals as a technique to intensify which can be challenging to truly grasp but he has done so successfully in this case.

Gold Love also shows C. Zukey's ability to draw out his vocals and hold notes. It should be recognised that throughout the album C. Zukey’s vocals are in time with the sound. In this track, he brings in a trumpet which adds something new in comparison to the rest of the songs on the album. It’s flowy and yellow like cherry blossoms falling at sunset.

To finish, the song Small Victories is chosen to round up the whole album. I did find this song to be an interesting choice to end with, in consideration of the other songs. However, it reflects the strength of the album and its core beauty. The album as a whole, shows the process of grief in a powerful way, including the back and forth of denial, the timing of acceptance and the pain of pure depression. There is a truth and a powerful depth to this album which not a lot of artists can do. C. Zukey has clearly gone to great lengths to make this album special with a significantly personal warmth.

 

About C. Zukey

C. Zukey is a Canadian-born New Zealand dream pop/soft rock artist from Auckland, New Zealand.

Overcoming a long bout of writer's block, C. Zukey translates the emotional impact of his partner's hypoxic brain injury following the birth of their first child, into compositions that are both sincere and intimate. In response to this life-altering experience, C. Zukey penned his debut album, Stone Fruut, a heartfelt dedication to his partner and child.

Teaming up with New Zealand producer Mark Perkins (Merk), Stone Fruut explores themes of grief, derealization, and nostalgia.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for C. Zukey

Releases

Stone Fruut
Year: 2024
Type: Album

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