Zee of Fire Garden is a good friend of mine and I feel fortunate to be able to say that. Besides being a good person, he is also a talented guitarist and songwriter. Back in March of 2015, we met up and he gave me his thoughts on what the future held for Fire Garden. He was moving forward (with keyboardist Frank Lucas) and writing whatever he felt. To be fair, the debut album “Sound of Majestic Colors,” while being a good album, was perhaps guilty of sounding too much like his influences rather than himself.
Zee also made the bold choice to take over the vocals for the second album which I supported. On “Far and Near,” Zee does a good job at singing and his voice adds an honesty to the vibe of the album. No, he isn’t going to win any vocal competitions BUT he is wise to write strong melodies and hooks that are in his range. “There’s Something” and “A New Day” have infectious melodies that will have you singing along with Zee.
Let’s not forget that Zee is also the guitarist and while he was more concerned on the debut album with “showing off” his skills, on “Far and Near” he shows that playing the right notes at the right time is far more effective. His solo at the end of “War and Peace” gave me chills and that rarely happens. There’s more emotion and feeling in his playing. This is how Fire Garden sounds when sounding like Fire Garden.
Joining Zee on the album on drums is (now former) Spock’s Beard drummer Jimmy Keegan who sounds incredible. Keegan has chops and POWER. He kicks these songs in the ass and lays down a helluva groove. As if that wasn’t enough, Dream Theater’s Jordan Rudess lays down a SICK keyboard solo on the outro for “Life of a Drifter” which for me is the best solo he has ever done. Yes I said it. Zee and company lay down a perfect groove and chord progression that allow Rudess the space to do his thing. He isn’t competing like he has to in Dream Theater.
“Far and Near” was expertly mixed by the great Bruce Soord of the Pineapple Thief. Add in artwork by Travis Smith and you have an amazing package. “Far and Near” is the sound of a man realizing his dream. Yes, Zee is my friend but if this album sucked, he knows I would tell him that. Conversely, when someone achieves something this good, friend or not, they deserve praise. “Far and Near” is an album that should put Fire Garden on the map. Congratulations, my friend.
1. Far and Near
2. There’s Something
3. A New Day
4. Life of a Drifter
5. A Thousand Lost Souls
6. War and Peace
7. Faint Shadows
9. Diary of the Blood Moon