Album: Open Season

Artist: George Terry & the Zealots

Label: self-released

Release Date: February 12, 2013

George Terry ;

Guitar virtuoso and songwriter George Terry, a veteran of both the D.C. and Tarheel music scenes, is currently based in Asheville, NC, where he cut his latest collection (at the popular CollapseAble Studios with producer/owner Aaron Price, who also contributed keyboards and bass; also on hand is a who’s-who of local players, including members of the Blue Rags, Honeycutters and Shane Pruitt Band). Originally available as a digital album, Open Season is now getting a physical release, and the album’s easily one of the most satisfying sets to come out of the Ashvegas area in ages. The front cover and panels of the fold-out digi-sleeve also showcase six of Terry’s portraits; the musician is also an accomplished artist and painter.

In tried and true fashion, Terry & Co. lead with their strong suit, a trifecta of tunes guaranteed to grab the listener’s attention and keep it: “Peace In Pieces” is an infectious slice of twangy powerpop hearkening back to Nick Lowe’s Rockpile-era heyday; the anthemic “Walk on Fire” has a distinctive Tom Pettyish vibe, Terry singing with confidence and urgency; and the acoustic-based “Bat Cave” offers a rhythmic and dynamic changeup even as it morphs from strummy mid-tempo ballad to full-on power-chord romp. After that, the highlights come frequently, from the Replacements-meets-Clash thumper “Man Without Qualities” (extra points for “best use of bagpipes in a rock song” since Big Country) to the sweetly countryish, pedal steel-flecked “Open Season” (another vocal standout for Terry; he’s adept across multiple genres) to the blazing, punk/garage raveup that is “Save the Childish.”

Throughout, Terry casts an alternately jaded and hopeful gaze at the humanity (or occasional lack thereof) that surrounds him, sometimes also finding fault with himself, his motivations and his actions but always discovering, in the end, a reason to believe. This combination of seen-it-all world-weariness and never-say-die optimism adds lyrical meat to the material’s eminently sturdy sonic bones, and in the end, Open Season will leave you feeling grateful that Terry chose to let you into his world.

DOWNLOAD: “Save the Childish,” Peace in Pieces,” “Walk on Fire”  —FRED MILLS