50 Odd Dollars
Razor & Tie
This is Fred’s second offering on the Razor and Tie label, and it may be the second time that his hardcore following of fans are not quite sure to make of their boy going off in another direction. His last release, Lipstick, Lies, and Gasoline , was a big departure in style from his earlier work. The LL&G release upset some of his fans at first, but they later grew to love it, and his following grew because of it. This one is even more of a departure in style.
Much of Fred’s older work was in more of a folk or bluegrass vein. Fred’s current style still reflects the influence of musicians such as the late-great Carter Stanley (the better half of the legendary Stanley Brothers), who is paid tribute to here with what is probably the best cut on the CD. Many of his songs, regardless of the style he chooses, are pretty hard-edged, and delve into subjects that you won’t hear sung about every day. Lately, his subject matter and style has changed somewhat, probably due to the time he’s been spending on the road as well as a conscious effort to avoid becoming boring.
With this release, Fred has fished in a surf-twang pond and has landed a couple of new songs that would fit right in on a Pulp Fiction soundtrack. This surf-flavored-folk-with-an-edge is a new style for him. The rest of this recording is pure Eaglesmith. All of Fred’s early influences still show through. The themes change around to reflect his current experiences, as they should. Several of his recent songs have leaned more toward his own unique brand of rock and roll, with the subjects of cars and the inevitable crazy woman popping up fairly regularly.
Some diehards might complain that this release is sorta dull, thudding and minimalist in spots. A couple of the songs are, but the purposeful restraint gives the overall recording a sort of garage-band quality, as well as a certain charm. Eaglesmith’s talent isn’t always as apparent if you look at individual songs. His recordings are sometimes better listens as concept pieces. Everything that one would of expect of one of our finest contemporary songwriters is accounted for here. The imagery, the sense of humor, and the edginess of his earlier work are all present in this release. My only complaint is that it’s just 35 minutes long.
Razor & Tie Music, 214 Sullivan St., Suite 4A, New York, NY 10012; http://www.razorandtie.com