Jonathon Zemek – ‘Everything Will Change’

The guitar crunch powering Jonathon Zemek’s “Everything Will Change” may be unexpected out of the traditionally country rock enclave of Austin, Texas, but the days when Waylon, Willie, and the boys solely dominated the city’s musical landscape is a myth. The city has always harbored a wide breadth of talented folks and Zemek’s guitar and high flown ambitions for his songwriting are the latest fine export from the area. The new single comes from his pending full length solo release Hillcrest and is a piece in a larger musical puzzle Zemek describes as a “rock opera”. There’s an implied conceptual conceit to such a label and it remains to be seen how Zemek has fleshed out his overall ambitions. “Everything Will Change” works as a strong single on its own, however, and shows how far Zemek’s work has come in confidence level since his days writing and playing for his earlier Austin band Soul Track Mind.


Zemek’s guitar work keeps its head down for the most part, sticking with strong riffing that frequently switches gears but maintains a consistent sound throughout, but he lays on some scattered flares of lead work that adds a lot of color. His guitar playing during the song’s bridge is effective and represents the strongest shift in gears during the song; he achieves a graceful, slightly skewed melodic quality during this section. His ability to alternate approaches never betrays a single misstep and is one of the critical elements keying the song as a whole.

The other element is, unquestionably, Forsyth’s vocal. He throws himself into the performance with every bit of the engagement you’d expect from someone who wrote it and leaves blood on the floor with every verse. There’s no indication Zemek composed this song with Forsyth in mind, but if he did, it is an astute marriage of voice and music that creates an unity of sound and emotion carrying the song over the top. He brings powerful phrasing into play, as well, and invests considerable emotion into each line, the choruses in particular. The go-for-broke, singing for his life approach characterizing much of his performance sharpens the song’s edgy quality without ever vying for the spotlight. The lyrical content is, surely, to be taken as a part of a greater whole with the album’s other songs, but conveys the subject matter in a visceral, direct way that’s intelligent without ever being obscure.

We can only assume that this is one of the key songs on Hillcrest and “Everything Will Change” complements its surrounding material. There’s clearly a great deal of thought placed into this song, yet it never unfolds in a forced kind of way or overstays its welcome with listeners. If Zemek has brought the same focus and imagination to the remainder of his new album that we hear with his new single “Everything Will Change”, we are in good hands for listening to his forthcoming album.


Joshua Beach