Wednesday, March 1, 2017
MUSIC REVIEW OF THE DAY: FRED EAGLESMITH - STANDARD
Lots of people think they're making roots music, but you actually have to have some experience to do it, at least a little more than, say, watching The Last Waltz several times in your condo. Fred Eaglesmith is truth, absolutely 100 per cent genuine. Every song is steeped in experience, every word. There are no basic doors, they are screen doors. When a lover leaves, it's not just the guy who's broken-hearted, even the old tom turkey is forlorn, calling over and over for that familiar face. And nobody's prouder than grandpa when they get his old car that's been in the barn for 29 years up and running again.
Of course, all this would sound hokey coming from most people, but Eaglesmith lives it, and probably even knows people who think the internal combustion engine is evil and prefer steam power. All these are examples from the songs on the album of course. For all the old-fashioned people and settings in his music, Eaglesmith's real power is his completely left-field delivery of the songs. Very rarely are they presented as straight-forward productions. Eaglesmith instead has this mysterioso recording technique he favours, His weary vocals are out front, but guitar sounds are twisted, harmonica floats in front the back, and occasionally some strangely-played sounds played on trumpets, violin and such creep in the background. There's an unsettling quality to it even, not unlike the hill country Mississippi fife-and-drum blues, reflecting the realities of life, the dark corners that are always close by. All that, and he wrote a break-up song featuring a turkey.