Zephaniah OHora Perfects the Classic Country Sound
He might have one of the most interesting names I’ve heard in a long time, but if you have not listened to Zephaniah Ohora and the 18 Wheelers’ album This Highway you’re missing out on a modern album with classic country sound. If I didn’t tell you that it was released in 2017 I’d bet 99% of people would guess the release date as somewhere in the 30-50 years ago range. It just has that sound, you know the one. That feeling when you listen to Merle Haggard sing.
Time for the disclaimer paragraph: Don’t get me wrong, this is the first album by Zephaniah that I’ve ever listened to and the first album put out by him as Zephaniah Ohora and the 18 Wheelers. So, I’m not comparing this album or him overall to Merle when it comes to accomplishments, legend status, or even talent due to the small sample size that this album represents. However, what I do compare to Merle with this album is the undeniable classic country sound that Zephaniah completely nails. Anyone who knows me knows that Merle is #1 all time in my book when it comes to country music (I even have a Hag tattoo on my arm…) so I’m neither calling Zephaniah the next Merle nor am I trying to make light of Merle’s legend.
Saving Country Music reviewed the album saying it was “Classic Country Music Mastery,” and I could not agree more. To be honest, it was Trigger’s review that got me to seek it out for a listen, as it doesn’t seem to have any mainstream backing to get the music out there (go figure). Hearing music like this being released in the current age gives me so much hope for the future of country music despite Sam Hunt recently breaking the record for consecutive weeks at #1 on country radio for ‘Body like an Overpass’ (let’s be honest, if you refer to a body as a backroad you are referring to a body as being like asphalt, gravel, or dirt. Not too appealing). But, if people like Zephaniah are out there making music, then I don’t care how many college kids sing along to bro country, because at least I know real, quality, classic country still matters to people other than just me. Thank you, Zephaniah, for giving me an album in 2017 that makes reminds me of my hero, Merle Haggard.
Favorite tracks: I Do Believe I’ve Had Enough & For a Moment or Two
The album is 11 tracks and you really can’t go wrong with any of them. Consistency in sound and tone throughout, and made in such a well-done matter that you really ought to give the entire album a listen instead of picking and choosing and hoping to find a single. After multiple listens, I will say that my favorites would be I Do Believe I’ve Had Enough – a ‘take this job and shove it’ type song of hitting that tipping point and wanting a change of pace, and For a Moment or Two – a classic ‘trying to forget a heartbreak’ song.
by Steve Hodge
An old school sound doesn't mean an outdated sound. Zephaniah OHora masters a classic country sound while remaining fresh and new. His song Take Your Love Out of Town had me sitting in awe, wondering how someone could capture such raw emotions in a beautiful sound like that. If you had told me that it came out in 1977, I would've believed you. If you love traditional country, this album is for you. If you prefer the new pop-centric country, do not listen.