CD review by Roger-Z (04/20/13)
Imagine the croon and swing of Sinatra, the sophistication of Steely Dan, and the wit and humor of television's The Big Bang Theory! That will give you some idea of what lies ahead in the "Golden Age" with Mister Fred. Mr. "everyman" manages to tap into his inner pain and joy and share it in song. Andy Bassford's beautifully arranged and orchestrated production puts Fred up front and center. Players include Mister Fred (vocals, composition, bass, guitar), Wayne Dunton (drums), Cliff Hackford (percussion), Dani Perito (keys), Bruce Edwards (guitar), Andy Bassford (guitar), Gil Parris (guitar), Ray DeTone (guitar), Mark McCarron (guitar), Vinnie Zummo (accordion), Suzanne Mueller (cello), Patience Higgins (oboe), Tom Olin (sax), Clark Gayton (trombone), John Philpott (sax), Libby Richmond (sax), JOel Frahm (sax), Guy Fischetti (pedal steel).So many of these tunes reach out and intoxicate. In many instances, the musical feel directly contradicts the emotional message. That just further ads to the charm. The strutting swing of "Green Impala" belies the constant reminders of a failed romance. "Every time I see a green Impala, I think of you." The gorgeous nylon-stringed melody of "The Faced of a Dream" helps soften the intensity of his staggering sincerity. "If there's something you want and it seems out of reach, don't give up on your dream. Find a mentor who'll teach and show you the way." The lovely oboe solo adds a layer of subtlety. The swaggering bass of "If I Had Wings" confutes the singer's lack of cash. "If I had money, Lord I'd spend it on you. Buy a big fine house... But I ain't got no money. I never will. I'll never be the folks who live up on the hill." The lilting samba of "To See Yourself As Others See" floats on a cushion of vibes and keyboards. Once again, the ease of the music masks the unease of the singer. "I look around the world I'm in wondering where I fit in. I feel so out of place so many times. People think there's something strange when I act myself for a change. It hurts them to see someone without his mask." The spaghetti-western instrumental, "I Walk Alone," builds to a dramatic climax of overwhelming sadness. The title cut, "Golden Age" sums up Mr. Fred's dilemma. "I've never seen things less together, crazy people, crazy weather. I'm not sure I want to see much more... Old man in a Chevrolet said things were better in his day, but he's forgotten two world wars, slavery and so much more."
Mister Fred delivers classic swing with modern anxiety. Wearing his heart on his sleeve just makes Mr. Fred's unease so much more startling. Everybody wants "happy ever after." Not everybody gets it. Love this CD!