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Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros: PersonA *

Album Reviews:

Rolling Stone - 3 stars out of 5 -- "For their fourth album, Alex Ebert and his hippie-vibes collective shambled to New Orleans, fusing light psychedelia with lighter R&B and jazz touches for music that often goes down like acid-spiked gumbo."

Clash (magazine) - "PERSONA sees a band stretching their creative wings and expanding their sound far beyond the fireside jammage that created them and becoming a more respectable prospect for it."

Album Notes

For their fourth LP, PersonA, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros changed up their process, gathering the whole band into a single room to write and record as a group for the first time. The all-for-one concept is illustrated with cover art that redacts "Edward Sharpe and" with red lines. If alter ego Edward Sharpe is gone, the soulful quiver of bandleader Alex Ebert remains, as does the occasionally foot-stomping psychedelia of the now ten-piece ensemble (with the departure of co-singer Jade Castrinos). Here, however, the attack is more refined, with most songs showcasing musicianship and expression over ramshackle celebration. This quality shines on a track like "Hot Coals." A jazz-infused, meter-shifting lament, it mostly rides along on piano and drums but picks up and drops off instruments along the way, eventually concluding with a trippy jam that integrates brass, organ, and spooky effects. It's one of a diverse set of songs that also includes the scat-charged "Wake Up the Sun," which nearly ends in a "Give Peace a Chance"-like singalong until it morphs into a choral-instrumental jam. As is usual for the group, the album holds other echoes of the Beatles, such as the tender "Somewhere," a part-Harrison, part-McCartney songwriting étude. Meanwhile, "Uncomfortable" is an improvised-sounding spiritual, and "Perfect Time" evokes a Frank Sinatra Vegas showpiece, albeit with blunter lyrics. A warmer standout is "No Love Like Yours," which boasts the album's catchiest melody alongside a playful groove. On the whole, though, PersonA finds the group still offering music-festival-friendly fare, but of a nature that's more jammy than jamboree. ~ Marcy Donelson


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