Review by Mike O’Cull, independent music journalist. www.mikeocull.com
Zama Rripa is a Miami, Florida-based singer/songwriter/busker who clearly knows the difference between being meaningful and sounding meaningful. He is a direct, plain-spoken writer following in the spiritual lineage of giants like Johnny Cash, Steve Earle, Phil Ochs, and Woody Guthrie, men whose messages were never obscured by literary tomfoolery. Like them, Rripa writes songs about the things that matter to him in a way everyone listening can understand. His latest release, American Soul, is due to drop on October 26, 2018, and the set is packed with strong songs and even stronger ideas. His sound is Americana but his attitude is straight-up punk rock.
Rripa writes songs about the social and political aspects of these times we’re all living in. His mind runs towards the concepts of peace, love, and liberty and he displays powerful feelings about each of them on American Soul. “Live and Let Live” is a driving Heartland-type rocker about life in the “bittersweet by and by” built on ideas gleaned from Thomas Paine’s The Rights of Man and William Graham Sumner’s The Forgotten Man, espousing The Golden Rule as applied to 21st Century American life and politics. One of the most affecting and personal songs here is “C503,” a first-person account of an elderly woman left alone in a nursing home facing the hard truth that “when you’re nobody’s memory, time is a long, cold December day.” Rripa does a fine job of getting inside his characters and this ability is what lets his songs transfer emotion to his listeners so readily.
Zama Rripa is a performer who absolutely deserves wider recognition and it is hoped that American Soul will help him achieve it. He is the kind of rough-edged street poet who is seldom seen anymore, not the typical bland songwriter hoping to get a track in a beer or truck commercial. Rripa says what he means and lets the disagreements fall where they may. If you only buy one independent release this year, make it this one.
Listen on Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/jpzamarripa/sets/american-soul