Eighteen-year-old Essex High School senior Zac Clark displays some serious versatility on his debut disc, Faking Amnesia. Playing keyboards, bass and drums in addition to handling all vocal and lyric-writing chores, Clark is an efficient one-man band. His songs -- which fall into the well-worn genre of gentle male singer-songwriter -- are certainly above average, especially considering his age. However, while Faking Amnesia is a fine introduction to an emerging artist, it's not without fault.
Opening track "Gravity" is perhaps the most fully realized cut on the disc. It's certainly the catchiest. With thunderous piano swells and an abrupt yet well-timed finale, "Gravity" is a lovely exception to subsequent tunes, which peter out before they finish, employing endless refrains and musical meandering. "Gravity" also boasts some of the album's most original lyrics: "So what I meant is I'm coming to my senses / I anticipate events but all my verbs lack future tenses," Clark emphatically sings.
His songwriting gifts aren't necessarily uncommon; every school has its bard, and Clark must be Essex High's. His lyrics do cover typical adolescent topics, such as romantic regret and social agitation. Still, "Options" would win any talent competition hands down. The lamentation about being strung along by a girl boasts some passionate piano lines.
Like many young writers, Clark sometimes succumbs to the styles of his influences. "The Truth" features cliched imagery and pop-punk screaming -- a tried-and-true recipe of teen angst. He also, unfortunately, tries to sing out of his range. Clark should consider stepping back from the mike from time to time -- rocking out on the piano is his strongest suit.
Overall, Faking Amnesia deserves congratulations. Clark's hard work has produced admirable results, including several really good songs. Recorded in the top-notch Egan Media Studios in Colchester, the disc boasts production values that more experienced artists would envy. Some collaboration might be a good idea, however; Faking Amnesia's occasional self-indulgence could be remedied by partnering with other musicians. Also, players of different styles and tastes might force Clark to exercise more quality control. Sometimes going it alone isn't the best route, even if you can.