Zank’s new album, Without a Bridge, sounds like a primer for how to make a pop album, right down to the key changes. The construction is there — harmonies in the right place, solos expertly executed — but the songs lack originality. With a sound mastered in the ’90s by bands such as Train and Counting Crows, Zank is treading on trodden ground with Bridge, however tight the arrangement.

Much of the album showcases Zank’s vocals, as opposed to ensemble performances by the crew of studio musicians. This is one of the album’s biggest flaws, as Zank’s country-tinged, alt-folk voice does best against a backdrop rather than over the top of stripped-down guitars on tracks such as “Wonderful” and “Stay.”

Overall, Zank does a good job with what he’s written. Some tracks are more inventive, like the slightly dark “Like Flowers for the Sun,” which features a haunting electric guitar and timely cymbal crescendos. Opener “Sorry” stands out as one of the stronger tracks on the album, with its driving rhythm and rising harmony.

Without a Bridge is radio-ready and well-packaged but feels generic.

Album: Without a Bridge (2009)
Artist: Zank
Label: Unsigned
Where available/price: iTunes for $9.99; Amazon for $8.99
Songs: 1) Sorry 2) How It Feels Right Now 3) The Last Car Ride 4) Wonderful 5) Like Flowers For The Sun 6) Stay 7) Growing Old 8) Letting Go 9) So Slow 10) With You 11) You Always
Band: Zank (lead vocals, assorted instruments), “Shauney Baby” (drums), Shawn Davis (bass), Jessie Taylor (violin), Peter Stanasoff (electric guitar), John Fretwell (backing vocals), and others
Website: myspace.com/zankmusic

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