Joey Frendo “Bound For Heartache”

Horton Records, 2023

Songs of resignation but optimism from the dust belt.

Originally from Michigan but now based in Tulsa for the last three years ‘Bound For Heartache’ is Frendo’s debut full-length album. It switches easily from full-on country music twang to thought-provoking, forlorn ballads. All of which seem to reflect the day-to-day difficulties of dust belt America where “bills are never paid on time”.

In these struggles, he seems resigned to accepting the situation as part of his lot in life. In ‘Get What You Get’ he tells us “I take what I can get, I won’t throw a fit. I don’t mind being stuck with the short end of the stick”. Adopting this attitude reflects the tone of the album in general. “No matter where I go bad luck is always following me” he observes. ‘Nebraska Rain’ finds him “flat broke, busted. Just another white man who can’t be trusted”. The album is filled with many self-deprecating lyrics such as these throughout.

That said the tone of the album is not at all depressing but it’s certainly reflective. The pedal steel heavy, upbeat, cowboy tracks move along very nicely indeed in exactly the way you would expect them to. It is these that lead to the generally uplifting mood of the whole collection of songs.

Possibly the stand-out track is ‘Old Fashioned Country Singer’ which is a homage to Hank Williams and others from the era. Like them, he ‘’is up to no good and couldn’t change if I could’’.

As a debut album, this bodes very well for future releases. His  optimism shines through in ‘Get What You Get’, where he feels he isOnly one chance away of my big break coming through’” This could easily be that chance.

Until then Frendo will continue “To walk the Line”.

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