The new album Mona Lisa by Midori and Ezra Boy is a project that has been in the works for the last two years. The band consisting of Midori (vocals), Tiger Yakimoto (bass), Dave Briggs (drums) and Sean Zilla (guitar) has been hard at work and it shows within the 13 songs on this girthy album. The band creates impassioned rock songs that have a commerical appeal that will attract a mass audience. Midori provides emotionally resonant vocals that carry the songs. You can tell throughout the album that she is singing from her heart and believes the words she is singing about.
The production is top notch throughout the record. Briggs’ drums snap, Zilla’s guitar has a meaty mid-range and Yakimoto’s bass provides a solid, robust bottom end. At 13 songs the album requires some investment but is worth your time. There are few lulls and the songs are relatively short - never eclipsing the five-minute mark.
The album starts off with a rocking, fist pounding number called “Way Too Close” that you can imagine playing at your local pub. There is definitely a bit of a 80’s influence from the dripping lead guitar to the stop-and-start style type verse. The second song “Whisper” displays that these guys have an emotional side that they don't mind getting down with. Midori gives a heartfelt vocal performance but don't be fooled - the chorus still rocks pretty hard.
“Swim In My Ocean” took me a bit by surprise in a good way. They ease off the distortion on this song and create a spacious environment for not only vocals but for the bass to be a bit more front and center. The title track “Mona Lisa” starts off sounding a bit like something you might hear from Rage Against the Machine before transforming into minimal instrumentation. Another notable song was “Saving Me,” which actually starts off sounding like a light jazz song. As it progresses the song showcases some of the best instrumentation on the album including blues guitar and very welcome horns.
Mona Lisa is a well-written, accessible album with a number of notable songs. Sometimes the album felt like it relied on too many rock ‘n roll clichés but for the most part it didn't have much of an adverse effect on my experience. Overall, the album is mighty impressive.
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