C. Zukey – Stone Fruut (Really Nice Records) (Album Review)

C. Zukey is a Canadian-born, New Zealand-based singer/songwriter who has just released Stone Fruut, a debut album of remarkable depth and beauty.

…And I should say sadness, as the artist describes this 10-song collection as “a journey through the grieving process” after his partner suffered an hypoxic brian injury after the birth of their first child.

A quick glance at the album’s cover art and one might think that C. Zukey is auditioning to be poster boy for the “Freak Folk” movement. The white robe, flowers in the air, glazed look in the eyes and the album’s title make me think of an artist like Devandra Banhart or even Donovan.

The sound crafted by Zukey and his producer Mark Perkins (Merk/Marlon Williams) is more dream pop than freak folk, but it still carries a touch of psychedelia throughout its core.

Helping out are drummer Alex Freer (Tiny Ruins) and Finn Scoles (Carnivorous Plant Society) who plays horns and vibraphone. But most of the music is made by C. Zukey and M. Perkins who contributes BVs, bass, percussion and keys along with his production skills.

The album opens with Happy&Healthy featuring a close, very intimate vocal from Zukey and a wonderfully funky/folky bassline from Perkins. Lyrically we find our hero “trying my best to be happy and healthy”, as the jazzy synths mellow the mood.

And this is an album where the lyrics take prime position. Fortunately, Zukey’s words are clear, concise and emotion-filled.

Whether is the reassuring Water Temple…”not gonna leave you now, not gonna make a sound”…or the unsettling Small Victories…”say what it means to be alive”…any listener willing to give this record a good hearing will find something to hold on to.

Keep Love is a highlight with its delicately psychedelic vibe while Was I Really Here//Last Place features a dreamy vocal and explosive production.

Freer’s drums and Scoles’ horns are used to judicious perfection, causing the music and the mood to rise and fall as the lyrics demand.

Stone Fuut is indeed a remarkable work, one that hopefully with result in a place much better than where it began.

Marty Duda

Stone Fruut was released May 10th. Click here to find it on Bandcamp