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Album of the month: Robert Allen Zimmerman

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Reported by Tom Roberts, music reporter

Album: Robert Allen Zimmerman
Artist: Robert Allen Zimmerman
Rating: Fantastic!

Tracks to Show Your Grandma: “She’s No Good”, “Highway 51 Blues” and “Freight Train Blues”

Tired of Today’s Top 40 Pop Hits playing everywhere?  Think that new music is way too boring and has no pizazz?  Well if you said yes (or even if you didn’t) check out this up-and-coming musician Robert Allen Zimmerman.  Zimmerman seems to be on a mission to bring excitement, lighthearted storytelling, and simple-yet-elegant songs back into the mainstream of today’s music scene.

Zimmerman, 21, is fresh out of Minnesota and claims to draw inspiration from nearly everything he sees, hears and witnesses (it’s amazing how much this kid takes in).  This self-titled album contains 11 renditions of traditional American songs  Zimmerman claims to have learned traveling to New York City from Minnesota, as well as two original tracks “Talkin’ New York” and “A Song for Woody.”

As soon as the listener begins the first track of album, “She’s No Good,” it becomes clear that the young singer-songwriter has been heavily influenced by the Rolling Stones and their 1972 album Exile on Main Street. Zimmerman seamlessly integrates harmonica solos into his work to bridge choruses and verses (much like Mick Jagger) and uses the classic blues open slide guitar sections (hello, Keith Richards).  This influence can also be heard in “In My Time of Dyin’,” where Zimmerman croons the same way that Jagger did in “Ventilator Blues.”

As many up-and-coming musicians do, Zimmerman took on the New Orleans Traditional tune “House of the Risin’ Sun,” to great success.  Zimmerman’s version may someday be compared to renditions done by the likes of The Animals and Joan Baez.  In “Freight Train Blues” Zimmerman attempts to reach out to rap fans by spitting out rhymes with speed that rivals Twista. Because of the rigid lyric structure Zimmerman uses, the combination of guitar riffing and extending the last words of verses act as hooks.  What makes Zimmerman’s album go from good to great is his clear understanding of American roots music, as seen in his self-written ode to the late legend Woody Guthrie which he simply titled “A Song to Woody.”

On his website, Zimmerman claims he is on what he calls “A Never Ending Tour,” and vows to only stop when he is dead.  It is clear to this reviewer that Robert Zimmerman may be the saving grace of American music in the 21st century and I hope that we will see more of this young musician in the coming future.

For tour dates check out www.bobdylan.com

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