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Joan Zen | Youniverse

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joanzen.com Tradebit MusicIsHere PayPlay Apple iTunes GreatIndieMusic

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United States - Montana

Other Genres You Will Love
Urban/R&B: Soul Pop: with Live-band Production Moods: Type: Vocal
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by Joan Zen

Funky R&B with roots music fusion including reggae, hip/hop, and jazz featuring uplifting messages.
Genre: Urban/R&B: Soul
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. No Motivation
3:26 $0.99
2. Soul Laundry
3:47 $0.99
3. The God In You
4:19 $0.99
4. We Are One
6:48 $0.99
5. The Usual Scene
3:04 $0.99
6. Mother Terra
3:39 $0.99
7. Chill
7:13 $0.99
8. Is There A Place
4:45 $0.99
9. Paint The Youniverse
4:01 $0.99
10. Quintessential Love
6:05 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Joan Zen is a missionary of peace and unity striving towards enlightenment for all beings through the powerful medium of music. Although strongly lyrical, the grooviness of Youniverse is undeniably catchy and soulful. Featuring Grammy award winner Huey Lewis of The News on harmonica, this album fuses soul, R&B, hip/hop, jazz, reggae, and funk, creating a new sound all its own, while offering prescriptions for modern day global issues. Media critics are hailing the record as being "invigorating and relaxing at the same time" claiming the different styles are "held together by the subtle shadings of Joan Zen's strong vocals - part sultry chanteuse, part rock diva" while being filled with commentary on "spiritual growth that is never heavy or preachy - but reflective and positive." It is also being called "direct, honest, deep-felt and uplifting."

Lis-ZEN carefully once and you'll want to lis-ZEN again and again.



to write a review

Bob Wire of The Missoula Independent

"Soul sister voice with punchy, pristine production"
I have to admit, I’m as lost in Joan Zen’s world as I am in a fabric store—a wide-eyed newbie in a strange and earnest universe. Or rather, a Youniverse.

That’s the title of Zen’s new CD, 10 tracks of R&B-flavored songs celebrating the Buddhist ideals of harmony, peace, love and connectedness. The lyrics are straight-up and irony-free in their message, almost to the point of didacticism.

“I wanted to write a good, poppy, feel-good record,” says Zen, aka Deborah Hicks, in a recent phone conversation. “I wanted to get people thinking about happiness.”

She adds that Youniverse is more accessible than her first CD, Intramission, which was introspective and brooding. That first disc “wasn’t meant to be commercial,” the Bitterroot resident says. “I was still finding myself.” With Youniverse, she and her Zen Band are, she says, “definitely coming into our own stylistically.”

The Zen Band is professional, tight and play with tons of confidence as they veer from soul to R&B to reggae. Zen is hoping this CD will garner some interest from major league reps, and the band sounds like they’d fit squarely in the adult contemporary radio format with its punchy, pristine production.

Zen sings with plenty of passion and emotion, and she’s got a great soul sister voice that can go from a whisper to a growl faster than you can say “pass the vegan burrito.” This, people, is a real singer with a powerful instrument. Zen’s command of restraint and dynamics sets her apart from so many “American Idol” divas and their hand-waving pseudo-gospel histrionics.

Fellow Bitterrooter Huey Lewis plays some great mouth harp on “The Usual Scene,” and Missoula’s David Horgan lends sublime guitar and lap steel here and there. This added spice helps break up a generic, lounge band feel into which the Zen Band sometimes lapses.
Deborah Hicks is Joan Zen.

One standout in particular is “Mother Terra,” a catchy, white-boy reggae/rap anchored by a synth-bass that sounds like a didgeridoo played through a wah-wah pedal. At a recent show, Zen said, there were “50 cowboys out there, line dancing to this song.”

Overall, Zen’s newest is a polished, professionally packaged effort that exists almost wholly on the love/peace/environmentalism plane. It should fly off the shelves of the Jeannette Rankin Peace Center faster than hemp T-shirts at a Michael Franti concert.

Neo-hippies, if you need a potent musical manifesto, this is your Youniverse.

Georgia Kay of The Ravalli Republic

CD with style, energy, good vibrations!
If you are not already a fan of Joan Zen, “Youniverse” will convert you. With exceptional sound quality, the success of this CD has a lot to do with the band’s ability to translate their live energy to disk while bridging the gap between neo-soul, reggae, blues, R&B, hip-hop rap, funk and jazz. Invigorating and relaxing at the same time, the different styles are held together by the subtle shadings of Joan Zen’s strong vocals – part sultry chanteuse, part rock diva – along with some exceptionally tight musicians and a mood and texture that is deep-felt and uplifting. Filled with commentary on individual spiritual growth it’s never heavy or preachy – but reflective and positive – tackling contemporary issues such as the destruction of the earth, understanding life and love, directly and honestly. There is no one track that stands out as the strongest on the disk – each resonates individually. During “No Motivation,” a song about going with the flow, you find yourself immediately wanting to sing along with the chorus, “Is there a place” is hip-hop rap without the usual percussive overload, in “The Usual Scene” nothing is held back. “Mother Terra” is a dramatic reggae anthem – well there is so much more – but the whole package is neatly wrapped up with “Quintessential Love” – a jazzy ballad praying for compassion and the happiness of all beings. Spiritual and playful at the same time it all seems to come together naturally. Band members include Donald Maus on bass, Brandon Zimmer on drums, Jason Hicks on sax and electronic wind instrument, and Joan Zen on vocals and guitar. Along with the above usual suspects, the CD also features Mike Bedard on drums and others on individual tracks including “Soul Laundry” a happy, reggae groove featuring David Horgan from the Big Sky Mudflaps on lap steel guitar, “We Are One” a blues jam featuring Mike Delaney on lead guitar and “The Usual Scene” an R&B dance tune featuring Huey Lewis on harmonica.