On their second album, the Berlin based band The Zenmenn joined forces with the German-Polish songwriter and singer Jonathan Jarzyna aka John Moods. The fruitful collaboration on the song “Homage To A Friend” from their debut album “Enter The Zenmenn”, gave the band the idea to record a full album with Moods.
Named after a country song that didn’t quite make it into the final selection, “Hidden Gem” is the result of an extended jam session in the studio on a ‘mystical meadow somewhere south of Hamburg’, as the band writes.
The work on the album began in the late summer of 2021. Using vintage instruments – such as an old DX7, an unusual Ukrainian bass and an almost discarded pedal steel guitar – and thanks to Mood’s uniquely fragile voice, the band produced six tracks that oscillate between smooth, West Coast AOR-infused ballads and ethereal ambient landscapes. The band themselves describe their sound as “something like Adult Oriented Rock with a teaspoon of Celtic sentimentalism, a pinch of big city Country wrapped in a late night ’70s style jam”.
The dreamily grooving, slide guitar-enhanced opener “Out Of My Mind” setting the mood for the following 43 minutes. A song that would have cut a fine figure on a Carly Simon album at the end of the 70s. The second track “Into The Heart Of The Matter” seduces with a bubbling jazzy R&B bassline and glittering guitar spots for midnight slow dancing. With “The Invisible Landscape”, the band dives into atmospheric ambient and new age realms, through which the smooth groove runs like a river through a rainforest. “Fantasy Again” returns to the organic West Coast shores, but expands the sound with folky guitar elements and gently wafting synthesizers, sometimes reminiscent of the late Jimmie Spheeris recordings, not least through John Moods’ ethereal vocals. The gently nostalgic ballads “Ordinary Time” and “Everytime” close this great album and take the listener off into the sunset.
“Hidden Gem” is what the title promises, a treasure of an album that will accompany us through the coming winter weeks like a cup of warm tea, thick blankets and the longing for the next summer.