The Freshmen Series: Zak Abel release puts him in category with Mendes, Malik

Categories:  The Arts    Music
Wednesday, October 11th, 2017 at 1:40 PM
The Freshmen Series: Zak Abel release puts him in category with Mendes, Malik by Dakota Palmer

Zak Zilesnick, known by his stage name, Zak Abel, released his first studio album, “Only When We’re Naked,” running head-first into the music industry.

The record is packed with sensual, upbeat songs that stick out as more than just typical pop songs. The tracks are riddled with themes of love, desire and regret, without the sadness that typically accompanies those topics. Almost all of the songs are upbeat and forward-looking, with the lyrics carrying the weight of the sadness. 

The 22-year-old English singer-songwriter’s talent and ability shine through on this release, as his voice is an amalgam of today’s top pop stars, including: Gavin DeGraw, John Legend, Adam Levine, Zayn Malik and Shawn Mendes. There are various spots in the album where one can actually pinpoint the exact moments where he sounds like those singers.

“Beautiful Life” is about a girl who completely changes the mindset of the singer. He says the girl he is with makes him feel alive and therefore it is “a beautiful life, it’s a beautiful world.” With his John Legend-esque vocals, he soulfully overpowers the instrumentals, which can faintly be heard in the background. His belting of the lyrics lets the song reflect his strong emotions about his girlfriend.

The title track begins with a piano riff, which leads into a soft voice that gradually gets more tenacious as the song continues. He passionately sings, “I don’t wanna hold back/Baby, you should know that/I would walk across the world/To see you through.” The song is fun and energetic, and it lets the listener know Abel put work into this album.

“Awakening” is about how the singer has had an epiphany on what he’s supposed to do with his life. He says, “And nothing tasted sweeter than, this life’s feeling so free/To finally smell the scent of who, who I’m supposed to be.” He clearly feels liberated from his past, and his discovery leads him to become more happy and positive.

“Deserve to Be Loved” starts out very slowly and drearily, but eventually picks up minimally and incorporates a saxophone to complete the jazz sound. The song is magnificently depressing and has the feel of an Adele song, circa “25.”

Abel has two songs on the album that encompass the feeling of regret fairly well.

In “Unstable,” he sings about how his significant other deserves better than what he can give them, but he doesn’t want to let go of their relationship. He also talks about how he is unstable and that his partner needs love “but I’m in my zone.”

“Broken” is about the end of a relationship and how the singer copes with his feelings. He sings, “Cause when I say goodbye, I thought I was sure/Now I’m more broke than I’ve ever been before.” Again, his emotionally-filled voice takes over the song.

His tactful minimal use of instrumentals showcases his voice and lets the listener hear his true talent without too much distraction. The LP tells tales of love, relationships and human emotion without being overbearing or too mushy.

In a music world dominated by the likes of The Weeknd, Ed Sheeran, Shawn Mendes and the One Direction boys, Abel does a great job of putting himself in the same category with this refreshing album. 

Stream the album below:

Dakota Palmer is the news editor for The Spectator. She can be reached at

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