|MADE IN OJAI—Smitty, and Julija|
But it's a longish ballad of laying one’s heart to the glorious presence of another. The harmonies elevate the words and soar over the hesitant piano, infusing the lyrics with heartfelt emotion. This song, though, drags when, I think, it should pick up the pace and rhythmically engage a listener in their joy, and regrettably he is an element that hampers many of the other songs. Particularly the next song, “Let Her Go”, where the philosophical lesson of letting go of past loves, regrets and missed opportunities to grow are lost in what becomes an inevitable tedium. Zonic has a fascinatingly vulnerable voice, suggesting a quiver, a quake, a certain fragility that suggests a trammeled soul that has to gather its wits and finds the words, the voice, the eventual wisdom to push on over the horizon. One wishes the song were more melodically y proactive in the sentiment and less dirge-like. There is an element in 12 Step communities called Rule 62, which is ‘Don’t Take Yourself So Seriously”.You learn to laugh at your problems no matter how dreadful they appear lest you advance your demise with the annihilating weight that comes with being the center of the world. Just when you think Smitty and Julija are without humor, we come across a sprite bit of satire, “Trust Fund Hippy”, West’s suitably and incisive to an obnoxious hipster indulging his counter-culture aesthetic with inherited money, oblivious to his own absurdity. Following suit, the music is up-tempo, with an old-time feeling, rather remindful of the Phil Ochs classic “Outside of a Small Circle of Friends.” There is quite a bit to enjoy and admire in Made in Ojai, but one does wish they would have varied the fare, taken it beyond the confession box they seem comfortable in, and engaged their wittier instincts.
(Originally appearing in The San Diego Troubadour. Used with kind permission).