Nashville’s Zachary Scott Kline seems to have three evocative things on his mind lately. Drugs, Jesus, and Fireworks. This being the name of his debut record, which was released this past June.
Mixing a gritty and honest attitude with the intricacies of Americana-inflected rock n’ roll, this album cuts like a knife. Kline’s raspy yet powerful voice gives a lot of haggard character to the album’s no-filter themes spanning from addiction to death. In our interview with him last year, he touched on this blunt honesty he utilizes in songwriting. “If you don’t have something worth saying, the song can only go so far.”
The title track and first song on the album, “Drugs, Jesus, and Fireworks,” is a beautiful reflection on small town life that one feels tied to forever. It’s a love-hate relationship with the town that has simultaneously shaped you as it’s torn you down. It features a barnburner chorus that is irresistible not to sing along to.
“Saint Cecilia,” one of the singles for the record, is reminiscent of some of the great road songs present in the canon of American music. References to gasoline, interstates, and chasing empty feelings are hallmarks of the strange mythos of American ramblers, and it’s safe to say that Kline has his share of experience on the road.
A chilled-out track on this powerful debut is “Old Way Home.” Accompanied by acoustic guitar and a unique rhythm consisting of an almost world beat nature, an already vulnerable Kline shows a restraint that pairs beautifully with the nostalgic nature of the song.
With a ragged distorted guitar and a classic backcountry slide sound, it’s obvious that the album is going to end with a bang. “Get Home Alive” is a war song that encompasses the will to survive through different wars fought by Americans. It touches on the changed nature of a person after seeing mankind’s worst form.
With a knack for always sending a message in his songs, no matter how bitter, Kline is walking down the same troubadour path taken by his influences like Townes Van Zandt and Blaze Foley to name a few. Drugs, Jesus and Fireworks is a vibrant display of a southern rock n’ roll Americana sound.