In making his fourth album Wash It in the Water, Zach Deputy dreamed up a sunny and soulful new sound that fuses hip-hop, funk, and folky pop with the spirited rhythms of soca and calypso. With that sound embodied by the album’s brightly melodic and richly textured title track, Wash It in the Water finds the Georgia-based singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist mining his Puerto Rican and Cruzan heritage for inspiration.
“Because of the music I was raised on, I’ve always heard rhythm in a very tropical, Latin-esque way—it’s something that resonates in the deepest parts of me,” says Deputy, who grew up in South Carolina. “When I was a kid my grandma would play a lot of salsa and soca and make me get up and dance to it, so in a way this is me putting my own spin on all that and bringing those sounds into a whole new era.”
With Deputy playing every instrument on the album, Wash It in the Water was self-produced in spontaneous sessions that took place in studios and homes and sometimes in Deputy’s garage. “Each time I recorded it was mostly just for fun,” he says. “I wasn’t trying to make anything happen, I was just going with what felt good.” As a result, Wash It in the Water bears a warm, natural feel that permeates everything from the intricate guitar work and tender vocals of “Jump in the Water” (a serenade to Deputy’s seven-year-old daughter) to the groove-heavy funk of “Put It in the Boogie” (a celebration of the joyfully chaotic life of a musician) to the piano-driven balladry of “Loving You” (a powerful meditation on unconditional love).
Despite the spur-of-the-moment approach, Wash It in the Water emerges as a gracefully arranged effort that owes much to the musicianship and songcraft Deputy’s honed since getting his first guitar at age 13. By his mid-teens he’d started up a series of garage bands, balancing his own projects with playing in local big bands and soul groups. “I was this 16-year-old white kid crushing it in a Motown band, and because of that I got to learn a lot about respecting the composition,” Deputy recalls. “To me music is a bunch of small pieces fitting together to form this beautiful castle.”