DAD COUNTRY

Jonny Fritz – Dad Country (Loose Music)

After countless years of incessant touring, playing in whatever bar, county fair or carpark would have him. Raconteur, belt maker and proprietor of Dad Country Jonny Fritz has found a home on Loose Music, the UK record label that is cementing its reputation as the heart of Alt-Country here in England.

For Dad Country Jonny Fritz (dropping the surname ‘Corndawg’ that was at one time his stage moniker) teamed up with Taylor Goldsmith of labelmates Dawes to record the album using a studio owned by Jackson Browne. When you hear the opening track there is a sense of relief that Goldsmith, while making Jonny Fritz’s left-field country sound fuller, has not drizzled that Dawes glossiness, the aural sheen that sometimes renders their music syrupy sweet and hard to take, over Fritz’s songs.

What has been added is a string of fantastic musicians that make Dad Country burst with a vibrant charm. Joshua Hedley’s fiddle playing adds upbeat fun to the Cajun shuffle of  “Ain’t it Your Birthday” and poignancy to “Fever Dream“’s tale of the loneliness of the perpetually touring musician. Spencer Cullum (on loan from tourmate Caitlin Rose’s band) adds swooning pedal steel throughout and adds depth to Fritz’s voice which is at times reminiscent of Robbie Fulks hick-gawkiness and a Dwight Yoakam-style sincerity that stops most of Dad Country becoming almost too goofy.

The only downside to Dad Country is the mix of carefree humour and introspection sometimes clashing. Fritz is at his best on the light-hearted up-tempo numbers like “Goodbye Summer” and “Holy Water” where his lyrics and croon skip over the music and fit perfectly.It can sometimes feel awkward when the flow of Dad Country jerks to a halt on songs like “Shut Up” and “Social Climbers” which appear like musical hurdles to stumble over.

On the whole Dad Country is packed with great songs, music and charm and is made for warmer times and colder drinks. If Jonny Fritz ever passes through your town on his never-ending travels be sure to make a date to see him.

[Rating:4]

 

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