Make Blues Not War by Mike Zito on Ruf Records

Reviewed by Harry Kaplan

Zito proves that the blues are still a vibrant and exciting musical genre. There is a tendency for blues music to sound very similar and hard to distinguish individual songs. Zito completely tears that myth down on Make Blues Not War by showing his versatility. Not only is Zito a world class guitar player, he is a great singer. This album mixes blues with rock and roll, southern rock and swamp rock to create an album that is infectious and each song is distinct. Zito can sing his tail off, but every song comes back to the guitar and his playing is smokin’.

Mike Zito is no stranger to the music business. This is the Saint Louis native’s ninth solo album. Not only has Zito had a very prolific and successful solo career, he was a founding member of the Royal Southern Brotherhood (2010-2014) which included the likes of Cyril Neville, Devon Allman, Charlie Wooton, and Yonrico Scott. When he is not playing, he is also a sought after producer.

The title track, Make Blues Not War (Track5), is a traditional blues number that Zito takes to the third power with blazing guitar solos and harmonica that raises the roof on this number. He pays homage to blues legends on this song, including Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, and BB King. The song is about peace through music. Being able to tear down barriers with the power of song. It is a good sentiment and should be employed more often, for sure.

Bad News Is Coming (Track 7) is a slower tempo blues number that clocks in at six and a half minutes. It is a relatively long song but plays like a three minute song because of Zito’s outstanding guitar playing. This song is exciting and the solos contain a lot of twists and turns to make this song extremely interesting and one that you will want to hear over and over. 

Wasted Time (Track 3) is great number similar in style to the legendary Stevie Ray Vaughan. Zito’s guitar is pretty darn good on this tune. Although this song and the others may be about topics that are normally sad or “blue”, Zito has the ability to make these numbers uplifting and not feel depressing or blue at all. That is a rare talent, indeed, and you should give Make Blues Not War a serious listen.

Listen to Make Blues Not War on Spotify

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