Sounds and sentiments out of 60s California. Strong songs from the alt-rock end of Americana.
Dan Friese describes his music as “folky, bluesy, psychedelic music packed with meaningful lyrics and nimble guitarwork.” Indeed, the music, and Friese’s singing have more than a flavour of The Doors and similar 60s icons.
His song ‘The Middle’ won him the runner-up slot in AUK’s first season of The Twang Factor. The recorded version is different with a percussive piano part and one of the albums few bits of drumming. The words for most of the songs are on the introspective side and relate to his own mental health struggles. He says, “I hope these songs will help someone somewhere get through something.” With many lyrics having bordered on the self-absorbed on recent albums, finding someone taking an approach that is more optimistic is good to hear. The album’s title song for instance “I searched my soul, and I didn’t like it so. I shot it full of holes. I made some plans.” Or on ‘Paint’: “Dig yourself a garden. Shoot yourself a scene. If we don’t do our part. It will be bleak.”
Musically Friese mixes up sounds to keep some variation. ‘Ebb and Flow’ features an Electric Piano that could well have come from a Pink Floyd tune. Irina Markevich’s violin is closer to something Virginia Astley might offer than anything else. The whistling on a couple of songs is the only thing that feels out of place. The two short Leo Kottke-styled guitar pieces are interesting and break up the album into sections particularly the opening ‘False Memories’.
If there is a criticism of the album it is that the heavy echo on Friese’s voice throughout do make the songs sound less varied than they are. Ending on the upbeat ‘Somewhere Brighter’ gives a positive feel that some of the more contemplative songs don’t offer. Having been playing it for a couple of weeks now though the quality of both the playing and writing overcome this small point. After a few duds over the summer the amazingly high quality of albums that 2021 is providing is back on track. From hearing this album and his Twang Factor video I would echo my colleague Clint West’s comment from late last year: “Hopefully, one bright future day, we’ll also get to see him perform live in the UK.”