As it often does, art imitates life on Zach Gill’s long-awaited second full-length album, Life in the Multiverse [Brushfire Records/Republic Records].“These songs are snippets from my life. Feelings and revelations that inspired me to want to write a song about them,” says the singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and longtime Jack Johnson collaborator. “The universe is immense. It's a world of untapped possibilities and varying, simultaneous realities, not just a universe, but a multi-verse.”
The record’s twelve tracks see Zach leafing through moments as if flipping through a photo album of Polaroids set to a soundtrack of witty and pensive pop music punctuated by swaggering, jazz-y panache.
Since the release 2008’s Zach Gill’s Stuff, Zach had been toying with the idea of making another "solo" record, but between making albums and touring with Jack Johnson and ALO and being a husband and a father, it never felt like the right time. It would take a little encouragement from friends to really get going…
“I was out to dinner with Jack (Johnson) and Emmett (Malloy) [video director] and they were both asking me, when I was going to make another solo record and I'd been wondering the same thing and I realized in that moment that if I didn’t get started and find a way to make the time for it, then it would probably never happen. Between family responsibilities and band stuff there's always so much going on. I love performing and touring, but I hate the idea of leaving my family, and so I'm often conflicted. Another album usually means time away from home. So I thought well, what if I record from home this time, while the kids are at school and really make the most of these little chunks of time, here and there.”
At any possible moment, he retreated to the “Creativity Lounge,” aka the garage of his Santa Barbara home, and cooked up demos. Eventually, joined by his long time band mates Steve Adams [bass from ALO] and Adam Topol [drums, percussion from Jack Johnson's band] as well as some other very special guest musicians, he took those ideas to the Brushfire Studio in Los Angeles and recorded the music with a clear vision for the entire body of work, splitting it into two halves—Side A and Side B—.
“Throughout the whole recording process, I kept thinking in terms of two distinct sides,” affirms Zach. The first half of the record is outward and social, groovy and playful, very much a part of the modern world. Full of drum machines, synthesizers, electric guitars and special guests. The second half is soft and acoustic instrument driven, dreamy and free flowing, focusing lyrically on the mysteries of life, things we feel, but can't necessarily prove through reason.
"On a personal level, this has been an intense time in my life, a wonderful time but an intense one, all normal human being kind of things, life, love, death, family, health, politics. But it hasn't been the kind of recording process, where the artist locks himself in a cabin away from the world and chills out for a couple of months. This music was made in the thick of it."
The first single “Joy (Goodbye Guilty Pleasures)” shuffles from quirky electronic production into bright piano and swinging vocals, detailing the joy inherent in coming to terms with your own musical guilty pleasures.
“The idea of feeling guilty or embarrassed about liking songs or styles of music is pretty silly,” he says. “When I was in junior high, I was embarrassed of the music I liked in elementary school, when I was in high school I was embarrassed by what I was into in junior high, and so on. At this point in my life, I'm not so interested in feeling embarrassed about who or what I listened too, I'm just grateful that it exists, it makes me happy."
Meanwhile, the sunny and cinematic “Solstice 2016” boasts an irresistible refrain and a guitar cameo from Jack Johnson as Zach shifts from clavinet and toy piano to melodica. "The World Is New (Ode to the Father of a Teenage Daughter)” offers Zach the chance to duet with his sixteen year old daughter Jaden, and mandolin from Mimi Naja of Fruition. Side A ends with "Chuck and the Nomads” and tells the story of his dad’s rock band in the late 1950's
Side B begins with “Eliza Grace,” inspired by the birth of his youngest daughter Ellie, followed by the poetic and mysterious “Up From Down Below” and concluding with the delicate send-off of “San Francisco.” The album also features guest appearances from his ALO bandmates Lebo and Dave Brogan, Stewart Cole of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and Nicki Bluhm.
Life in the Multiverse represents the culmination of over 20 years in music. Throughout his career, Zach has recorded and toured all throughout the world with Jack Johnson and ALO (Animal Liberation Orchestra). He's recorded music with or backed up every one from Jerry Harrison of The Talking Heads to Neil Young. He's sung duets with Eddie Vedder and Amy Mann. His solo discography encompasses not only 2008's Zach Gill’s Stuff, but also the 2013 Holiday EP, Roastin’ Chestnuts with Zach Gill.
Now, he’s allowing fans closer than ever before with Life in the Multiverse by holding up a mirror to his own life.
“I put a lot of my own life into these songs, now I'd like to see people use them in their lives."