Perfect For Summer
The Garden is the third album to be released by Sam Hardaker and Henry Binns, also known as Zero 7. This time around the singer songwriter Jose Gonzalez makes an appearance on vocals on four of the twelve tracks. Of course Sia Furler and Henry Binns himself both return on vocal duties for other songs.
Stylistically this album is a smooth progression from When It Falls, still capturing that unique Zero 7 sound whilst moving into new slightly more upbeat and summery territories. Whilst The Garden is chilled, peaceful and enchanting it is also funky, playful and rich in hooks. The PR claims that this record will be your soundtrack of the summer and for once I think they might be right. As the rain pours down and the sun hides behind the layers of clouds put this CD on and your life will instantly feel better, the clouds will break, the sun will shine and the birds will sing (in fact they'll probably sing the uplifting gospel breakdown from 'The Pageant of the Bizarre').
At first I wasn't really sure that the distinctive and somewhat nasal voice of Jose Gonzalez would fit with the delicate simmering production characteristic of Zero 7. Yet inexplicably Jose's voice rides the slick undercurrent of synth and guitar melodies beautifully, this album even features a reworking of one of his own album tracks 'Crosses'. The vocals throughout the whole album are simply delicious. Sia is sultry and divine as always and thick backing vocals have been used a lot more on this record providing lush textures and sumptuous harmonies.
Every album Zero 7 makes seems to be a solid rounded piece of work building on the one before, and this is no exception. Recorded mostly in the duo's home studio in the countryside of Somerset the vibe is definitely more upbeat than previous records. Live acoustic guitars also feature predominately throughout the CD, which helps to add intimacy and a human feel that is so often lacking in similar electronica based artists. Every track seems alive and grows, developing subtly as you listen. Every time you come back to this album you'll find something new, layers of harmonies and counter melodies offer deep sands in which to dig for aural treasure.
This is a truly delightful album, rich in both singable melodies and soulful grooves. Perfect to party or chill to, Zero 7 have found a rare balance between relaxation and energy.