John Wesley Harding + Eleanor Friedberger
John Wesley Harding may take his name from a Bob Dylan album and be a modern-day folksinger, but with the biting, cynical observations in his songs and a sharp sense of humor combined with winning melodies, he shows that his true forefathers are Elvis Costello and Nick Lowe with a hint of Billy Bragg. Far from being a follower or strict revivalist, however, Harding draws on a wide assortment of musical influences, pushing the boundaries of the all-too-often formulaic singer/songwriter tag to create something all his own.
His most recent album (his tenth overall), The Sound of His Own Voice, shows he still has a point of view and no shyness about expressing it, from a musical standpoint, this is one of his most engaging pieces of pop songcraft since he burst onto the scene with Here Comes the Groom in 1989. Scott McCaughey (who played on Harding's 2009 effort, Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead) co-produced The Sound of His Own Voice with the singer and songwriter, and he brought in an impressive variety of collaborators for these sessions, including Peter Buck, Rosanne Cash, and John Moen, Chris Funk, Jenny Conlee, and Nate Query of the Decemberists, and the results are beautifully crafted and entertainingly eclectic, encompassing the jaunty folk-rock of "Uncle Dad," the nervy rock & roll of "Calling Off the Experiment," the R&B underpinnings of "I Should Have Stopped," and the epic scale finale "The World in Song."
Eleanor Friedberger is previously known for her work in Chicago power-pop harmonie-musik The Fiery Furnaces, a band she created with her brother Matthew at the turn of the millennium. They're too modest to mention that they've won a number of awards, sold out happenings the world over and made nine albums, most recently Take Me Round Again, a collection of cover songs from their previous album. That experience, combined with the fact that The Fiery Furnaces aren't breaking up, inspired her to make her first solo record, Last Summer, last summer.
In the music, you will hear the casual confrontation of the most emotionally direct Fiery Furnaces songs, plus a lot of snap, crackle and pop. In fact, in these songs made of memories, you will hear the future. Sparks, Donovan, Procol Harum, Kath Bloom, Lo Borges and Todd Rundgren too. Friedberger's phrasing is as good as anyone's; even better, when the line's over and most other singers would leave it right there, she'll throw in an unnecessary extra syllable?a "yuh" or an "er," even an "oh oh." It's like she hates silence. "Eleanor Friedberger's music improves on silence": there's your headline.
With Last Summer, Eleanor Friedberger may well be telling us about last summer, or various last summers, or even-WATCH OUT!-the last summer there will ever be. . . One thing is certain: she's playing a long game. Welcome to Level One.
The Parlor Room at Signature Sounds (View)
32 Masonic St
Northampton, MA 01060
|Kid Friendly: Yes!|
|Dog Friendly: No|
|Wheelchair Accessible: Yes!|