2015 – Ruf Records
By Phillip Smith; Dec 26, 2015
Mike Zito is quickly becoming one of my favorite songwriters. His lyrics have a way of connecting with the working class, and the music to which they are delivered is a splendid dose of rock, blues, and Americana. The Wheel consists of a stellar group of musicians: bassist Scot Sutherland, pianist Lewis Stephens, saxophonist Jimmy Carpenter, and drummer Rob Lee. Keep Coming Back contains ten magnificently written and performed originals along with a ripping cover of Bob Seger’s “Out of Denver” and a funky take on CCR’s “Bootleg”.
Stephens and Carpenter dole out tasty barrelhouse piano and rocking sax on title track “Keep Coming Back” as Zito kicks out the jams on guitar. This one is one big ball of bluesy fun.
I love easing into the day, listening to “Early in the Morning” on my way to work. Zito’s raspy vocals remind me a lot of Rod Stewart's.
A true master at telling stories through this music, Zito delivers the goods with “Girl From Liberty”, which takes a closer look at the grim underbelly of dysfunctional family life. This song sits atop my list of favorites. Zito then digs deep inside his soul to share the destruction and aftermath resulting from his battles with addiction, in the heart wrenching “I Was Drunk”. There’s an anxious energy surrounding “Cross the Border”, a chaotic tale of reckless abandon. It surely leaves me hanging on the edge of my seat as the story unfolds.
Whether he’s performing his own songs, or one of the covers, Zito keeps it real and keeps it interesting. That’s what I love about his music.