“Gone to Texas” is an old expression meaning you’ve left behind troubles, debts, and a former life. That is precisely what Mike Zito has done over the course of the last ten years. He grew up and cut his musical teeth in St. Louis. In time, he got lost in a world of addiction and found himself in a downward spiral. Zito later found himself directionless in Florida, and finally, he wound up in Texas. Two things saved him there; the woman who is now his loving wife, and a desire to change, to do better for himself.
In 2011 Zito founded Royal Southern Brotherhood with friends Devon Allman, and Cyril Neville, and they issued their debut album in May, 2012 to critical acclaim. As a solo artist, Zito has previously issued several quality albums. Earlier this month he released Gone To Texas with his band, The Wheel, on Ruf Records.
This is Zito’s best solo work to date. His technique, songwriting, and musicianship improves vastly from each album to the next, and Gone To Texas is the culmination of a lifetime of learning and growth. Clocking in at just about 62 minutes, the album is a joy to listen to. The US edition has 13 tracks, all exceptionally well played. Zito produced and David Ferrel engineered, and working together, they did a powerful, full sounding audio mix. Personnel are Zito – guitars and vocals, Scot Sutherland – bass, Jimmy Carpenter – guitars/sax, and Rob Lee on drums. Guest appearances include slide master Sonny Landreth on guitar, Susan Cowsill on vocals, and Delbert McClinton on harmonica and vocals.
A great album from start to finish, Gone To Texas does have several standout tracks. The title track has a slightly Allman Brothers vibe and is a powerful tale, delivered with the heart and honesty of someone that has lived it. “Rainbow Bridge” is a dynamic masterpiece with Sonny Landreth adding serious slide, and Susan Cowsill contributing a moving vocal. “I Never Knew A Hurricane” is a beautiful, soulful, sonic work of art, again featuring fine vocals from Cowsill, and sax accents from Jimmy Carpenter that polish the overall sound with just the right touch. “Let Your Light Shine On Me” has a raw power to it, aided by the simplicity of its lone acoustic guitar, and the passively gritty vocal.
Mike Zito has Gone To Texas and we should all be thankful he did. This album is about making a choice to start over, facing and conquering inner demons, and being reborn. Because Zito has lived so much of this, he conveys these struggles with honesty, modesty, and sincerity without whining about it. Instead, he narrates the journey in a musically powerful way that is accurate and convincing.