Thursday, March 18, 2010

Reviews:: Fred Squire S/T

It's not surprising that Fred Squire just released his latest record to little or no fanfare; that's kind of been the way the talented Sackville resident has approached his entire career. His purist vision (bordering on insane in today's "me first" market) that good music will eventually get heard is becoming less and less of a reality. Demos are sent to blogs within minutes of being recorded. Albums are traded freely months before release, but almost defiantly, Squire actually removes himself farther from the machine as the only "releases" this 7-song record gets is on cd-rs cased in a manila envelope, destined for only the most devout fans lucky to either know Fred or catch a show.

And that borders on a musical tragedy.

Squire's voice and subtle, distorted guitar should have pushed him to the top of the Can-Indie rock list by now - and underneath the barely audible vocals of the opening track What's That Over There, a Dead Rainbow? is the ever present chugging electric engine that has driven most of his previous work (and the bluesy stomp of We Are All The Middle Child I guess) - but it's the remaining songs that make this record so important in terms of how his music is judged.

The record plays like a moment of clarity; Squire is as honest and exposed as I've heard him. Piano ballads strips out most of the distorted safety net his Crazy Horse guitar style provides, and reveals subject matter is incredibly powerful and heart felt. The accordion, string laced instrumental End of Previous Song unsettles the listener and unshackles the chains that expectations have put on Squire's catalog. The droning melody reveals seconds of beauty, before Squire hits us with beautiful harmonies on the spiritual, acoustic/piano ballad You Sing High, We Will Sing Low.

It's so easy to forget that Fred's voice can pierce through the clunkiest of riffs and distorted energy, but on the stripped down tracks he provides here, it's almost hypnotic. The simple piano chord progression that starts Old Times Past Times is the perfect stage for Squire to grab the listeners before infusing the track with drums and tasteful electric. Fred walks us down moments of his life, never letting the pace or volume distract us from his words, and as he repeats, "the decisions that I made" you never get the sense he's heavy with regret, he's just finally willing to talk about some of the events that have stuck with him.

The truly amazing thing about this record is that even though the first few songs rank high among my favorite pieces he's ever written, Frankie & Albert might become the song that shows Squire reaching the summit of his potential. The effortless combination of piano and guitar are as honest a melody as I can remember and fit perfectly with the 5-minutes of heartbreak Fred sings about. Love, loss, pain, death and fear; these themes are ever present in music, but when they are delivered as perfectly as they are on Frankie & Albert, the results are enough to make you cry.

So is the fact that almost nobody will get to hear the song and share the experience.

MP3:: Fred Squire - Frankie & Albert

MP3:: Fred Squire - Old Times, Past Times
BUY:: Good luck

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Posted at 8:15 AM by ack :: 0 comments

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