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EdTang & The Chops: Goodbye, Zen5, Sushi Dinner, CD Review

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Singer/Songwriter EdTang’s Engaging Mix of Folk and Country

Goodbye, Zen5, Sushi Dinner, CD Review

Goodbye, Zen5, Sushi Dinner by EdTang & The Chops, 2013. Photo Courtesy of edtangmusic.bandcamp.comGoodbye, Zen5, Sushi Dinner, the latest CD by EdTang & The Chops, is a pleasant cornucopia of funky folk rock, sprinkled with a dash of country. Based in Asbury Park, New Jersey, this is the group’s second release (after Songs From Under Weigh in 2009), which offers a catchy and upbeat collection of songs, fueled by Tang’s rustic and down to earth melodic energy.

Tang describes the CD as being “about hope, longing, and the waning twilight of youth.” There’s much of that to find here, especially within Tang’s lyrics, which are both intriguing and highly poetic, that allow him to exorcise any internal demons.

Goodbye, Zen5, Sushi Dinner is hip and catchy, with a foundation in country music, yet it doesn’t come off as being clichéd or predictable. The country vibe here isn’t overbearing, nor does it feel forced, like some of what passes for ‘country music’ today. These touches are subtle and charming, where they could’ve been overtly flashy instead.

Tang’s music is very bare bones and has a gritty aura about it, especially in the haunting melodies and the crisp sounding recording.

For example, “Vaya” opens with deep echoey acoustic guitars, eventually creating a pleasant country feel. The steel guitar is a nice touch on this particular track as are the backing vocals by Kelsey Windas, who also sings a haunting duet with Tang on the acoustic “Pualei”.

“Lincoln” is a solid rock tune with driving, yet subtle piano to help balance the rhythm section, all capped with a pleasant guitar solo by Geoffrey Myers.

An attempt to reconnect with a lost love is at the core of “Recharged”, a sweet spare number that recalls the sounds of Bob Dylan and Neil Young. The song is incredibly touching and poignant, especially in the opening lines: “When I was young, I was dumb, I let my sweetheart slip away/She soon found another one, but I stayed lonely in everyway. ”

“My Whole Life” is the CD’s undisputed anthem. It’s extremely powerful and its slow and groovy pace gives it a special oomph. The lyrics clearly address a need to re-evaluate one’s life, and to live for the moment while it’s still there. The song has a crunchy power pop feel, even though there’s no guitar solo during the long fadeout.

“Beware of a Dog” is a powerful rave up about a guy who leaves his woman behind, feeling that he can’t love her. There’s a hearty energy here that comes to a crashing halt in order for Tang to deliver the final stanza in a somber and poetic tone.

“Just Two Old Friends” focuses on the innocence of young love that sweetly blossoms and eventually dissipates over the course of time. If you’ve ever been in a relationship that had an uncertainty about it, then you’ll identify with the lyrics.

While Goodbye, Zen5, Sushi Dinner is an entertaining listen, I found myself wanting just a bit more, particularly more variety in the composition of the songs, all of which sound a bit to similar in their structure and are also a bit too short (the longest track, “Just Two Old Friends”, clocks in at 4 minutes and 7 seconds). A smidge of extra length, including a bit of jamming and a few more guitar solos, would add to the intensity of these extremely well written tunes.

Minor criticism aside, the musicianship is excellent throughout and Tang has a crackerjack band that’s undeniably gritty and energetic. Goodbye, Zen5, Sushi Dinner is worth a visit.

–Dave Bower is Co-Publisher of The Free George. Photo Courtesy of

The Free George is the online magazine and visitors’ guide of Upstate NY, covering things from Albany to Lake Placid, including Saratoga, the Lake George region and the Adirondacks. Check out our City Blogs section for our extended coverage areas as well.

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