Jimmie Van Zant

Southern Comfort

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The Van Zant legend continues to grow and spread throughout the land 23 years after the plane crash that killed, among others, Ronnie Van Zant, the charismatic lead singer of Lynyrd Skynyrd. Ronnie's brother Donnie continues to sing and play guitar with his band .38 Special, while kid brother Johnny Van Zant maintains the front man position in the Skynyrd band of the 21st century. And then we have the cousin. Yep. Jimmie Van Zant, a hard working rock and roll singer his own self, who sometimes sounds like an almost spooky cross between Johnny and Donnie. "Get Up" kicks off the set with a rebel yell and a fist to the gonads and you think the Southern rock is hittin' you in the face pretty hard, but that's before you hear the next track, "Bad Habits," a song that rocks along with genuine Jacksonville heart. Next is "Ronnie's Song." So many bands have tried to put their heartfelt feelings for Ronnie into song and Charlie Daniels even did it twice with two excellent tunes, "Reflections" and "Sail Away" from his Road Dogs album. But sometimes it seems the emotions and the desire to express a feeling get in the way of creating a good song. Such is the case here. Not that "Ronnie's Song" is a bad tune. It is filled with heart, but it seems at times to be trying a little too hard. The title track rocks. The JVZ Band conjures up the freebird spirit big time by playing some excellent Southern rock. Jimmie pulls out a very nice cover of the Lynyrd Skynyrd chestnut "Simple Man," with righteous guitar leads and heavenly background harmonies, and "Here to Stay" is a country romp that tells the story of a family fighting to keep their family farm from being seized. The Jimmie Van Zant Band may not be in the same league as Lynyrd Skynyrd, but they rock with some serious Southern smoke that would no doubt put a smile on the face of ol' Ronnie himself.

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