On their self-titled release, what is immediately apparent in the pairing of Donna Jean Godchaux-Mackay and the already-infamous Zen Tricksters is a beautifully rendered seven-part harmony with both male and female vocals. In a time when a lot of bands look for fancy pedals and electronic equipment to layer sound, it's refreshing to hear people use intertwining vocals instead.
Donna Jean used to sing with the Grateful Dead, so you might think this release just rehashes all of the old Dead favorites. At some points, it may feel as such, but there are elements such as a pure zydeco violin on "A Prisoner Says His Piece" and a more traditional fiddle paired with the mellow tones of a cello on "He Said She Said," that let you know there's another layer below. With this first release, they've also decided to take a chance by alternating the songwriting/singing between Donna Jean and the male vocals. Within that balance of male/female vocals, there is also an evolution to the album as a whole. The last three tracks take elements included in the previous ones to create an even richer, fuller sound where no instrument or voice is featured over another and is instead working in conjunction.
There is a clear direction for Donna Jean, and although each track sounds distinctly different from the one that precedes it, there is a cohesive balance to the album as a whole, and you might even say that it's a throwback to the original Bay Area roots sound, where the only order of business is to be happy.
May 28, 9 p.m., $10 adv., $12 door. Terrapin Station, 1519 W. Main St., 208-342-1776.