Zephyr Love & Jennifer K. Austin – Anthology Lounge: April 22, 2023 (Concert Review)

Zephyr Love

 Zephyr Love and Jennifer K. Austin played tasty retro rock’n’roll and Americana to a rowdy bunch of fans and friends. And curious aficionados like me who seek out interesting artists working under the radar.

Jennifer K. Austin was born and raised in America. Possibly Nebraska, as she has degrees in communication and music from the Wesleyan University there.

She has trained in classic voice music and has had a long career as a theatre actor. She has taught voice and dramatic acting.

The trip has been from America to Melbourne, and then to New Zealand. That may appear as de-evolution for popular music and the arts. Many Kiwi artists take the reverse journey. It’s the circle of art then.

Jennifer K AustinShe launched her 2020 album Journey at the Anthology Lounge in the year Zero of Lockdown. She plays Misery from that album, and it showcases her powerful voice. Gothic folk americana which builds slowly to intense powerhouse singing. She sounds like Patti Smith and her work over the Seventies punk era.

In the Deep End is even better, as she duets with James Grant. He has a classical-trained voice to my ears, and again they deliver a sophisticated and passionate folk number. They co-wrote this one.

The band behind her for the night is Zephyr Love, and they provide solid on-point music, but the vocals get buried in the mix on half her set, which is a shame.

Opening songs Guilty Pleasure and Go Big Go Home are good Southern style americana rock’n’roll. We just can’t hear her until she hits the top of her range.

There is a nice church organ intro to Dream Weaver, as she starts slowly, asking to lay me down on the ground. Then takes off into the high keening wails which make her distinctive. Great control and sustain. Piercing like a stiletto.

The mix has improved for the last two songs. Cards is from her latest EP, and the guitar lays down some rootsy American rock riffs as Austin takes it out in style on a rollicking road song.

Zephyr Love

Zephyr Love is a new project for lead singer and guitarist Chris McCollum. He is also a Yank domiciled in New Zealand. Less than a decade after leaving Austin, Texas. Again, coming from an American music mecca.

ZephyrHe has his main band Makeshift Parachutes, who are psychedelic rockers with a certain air of the Grateful Dead about them. This is his new side-project where he gets to work out his folk pop sensibilities.

Rest of the band. Chops McWaters on drums, he has a Ringo-style appeal to certain loud members of the crowd. Cam Taylor keyboards, Alex Kimono bass and Cherisha Heart guitar. They sound like Captain Beefheart player names. Heart is McCollum’s younger sister.

They appeal immediately as a great little retro-rock outfit. Specifically, the Sgt Pepper era and the Summer of Love. When bands mixed hippie folk rock with psychedelic sounds and sowed the seeds for prog rock. Which covers a wide range of sins and salvation.

Homage is a nice power pop song built around a great drone riff. McCollum tells us he is recovering from illness and his voice is just holding on. There is no sign of the Jackson Browne’s on stage tonight. He has a fine tenor voice with the characteristic sound of the Sixties American garage and frat rockers.

The vocal mix which plagued Austin is gone.

They lay down a diverse mix of styles. Marianne is unashamedly sentimental folk pop. Elevated with the addition of Eastern ringing guitar tones.

Story Book starts with the chord crunching heaviness of the Crazy Horse band behind Neil Young. It lifts off from there into complex power pop. There is a fair amount of Boston in their musical roots.

I especially liked Dreaming Somewhere. This one sounds very similar to the classic country rock of Cowboy’s Please Be With Me. It’s on the Duane Allman Anthology Vol 1 album. An essential compilation you should all check out, and it sounds like an influence for this band too.

Jennifer K. Austin and Zephyr Love both display a lot of craft and depth to their music, and they obviously have fine pedigrees. I would like to hear Austin again with the vocal mix sorted. Cult boutique musicians to be discovered, and perfect for the New Zealand Music Month of May coming up. They have graced us with their presence here.

Rev Orange Peel    

Click on any image to view a photo gallery by Leonie Moreland:

Zephyr Love:
Jennifer K. Austin: