Zak Abel – Love over Fear
There’s a song on the long-awaited second album by Zak Abel called Winging It. Those familiar with the British singer-songwriter will be aware that the artist has been doing anything but winging it since breaking out back in 2015. His vocal dexterity is the kind that stops a person in their tracks, a stirring musical gift that’s impossible to ignore. It was the EP One Hand on the Future followed by 2017’s debut album Only When We’re Naked that cemented Abel as a talent to watch out for. Following this, the artist adopted a slightly more commercial sound with the singles Love Song and You Come First and appeared on track to becoming a household name. Alas, no second album materialised after the release of these and a further smattering of singles. So why the lengthy hiatus?
Despite boasting a legion of loyal fans and enjoying success with a number of releases, Abel was dropped by Atlantic Records. On top of this he was losing his hearing in his right ear – an unimaginable horror for anyone, let alone a musician. It took Abel a year to learn how to hear pitches again after undergoing a successful operation; throw the pandemic into the mix and suddenly six years have passed between albums. The man’s passion for music and his ambitious drive prevented him from ever being deterred. Atlantic’s loss is BMG’s gain and, since signing with the label and working on his eagerly anticipated sophomore effort, Abel also stepped back into the spotlight on an epic scale when he sang at the King’s Coronation Concert. He has also revelled in the success of what could be his biggest hit to date: Endless Summer in collaboration with Alan Walker. The anthemic banger has had considerable exposure on TikTok and exhibits the versatility of a singer who can seamlessly switch from dance to pop to funk-tinged soul.
This range is showcased on Love over Fear. A crackling gives way to Abel’s powerful vocals as the title track kicks things off; it’s an expressive statement song that sets the scene for what is to come. The uplifting, feel-good vibe continues with Woman, his latest single. Carrying the artist’s signature sound, this is an open and honest love song over a sonorous beat. What Love Is contains that ear-worm chorus that he so often masters and once again combines soul-drenched vocals with a strong tempo. Kindness of Strangers – one of many contagiously catchy numbers – is slightly evocative of Ed Sheeran in its refrain. The Latin-tinted How Do We Stay in Love is reminiscent of John Legend, with Abel’s vocals once more on point. While the singer unashamedly alludes to his many musical influences, his sound is very much his own. This is exemplified on the old-school Winging It – a surefire highlight of the album and a song made to be performed live.
Ballad Cry is another showstopper: heartfelt, tender and raw, this is the singer at his very best. Let Me Sing is Abel at his most candid, the lyrics describing the fear he felt at the prospect of losing his hearing and therefore his ability to continue making music – an empowering chorus and meaningful message. The commanding and absorbing Midnight Gospel continues in this vein. The singer-songwriter slows things down with Still Have Love for You before concluding this cohesive collection of songs with a re-recorded version of Deserve to Be Loved. This song first appeared on his debut album; its new stripped-back incarnation is suitably placed, displaying the artist’s growth as a musician since his early days while also encapsulating this record’s themes.
Love in all its forms is unsurprisingly at the forefront of this new body of work and Abel’s love for his art emanates from each of the 12 tenderly crafted tracks. Fans will delight in the new album, which is also sure to draw in those who are new to his work. He comes over as an individual, who, like so many of us, has battled and overcome adversity and managed to transform any negative occurrences he has encountered into positive learning experiences to grow from. Love over Fear embodies all that Abel is about, and showcases his truly raw and remarkable talent. It’s great to have him back.
Love over Fear is released on 25th August 2023. For further information or to order the album visit Zak Abel’s website here.
Watch the video for the single Woman here: