Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Ian Fitzgerald "No Time to be Tender" album review

 Ian Fitzgerald is a songwriter and folk storyteller (not a phrase I use lightly, and respect wholeheartedly) from the Boston area. As a songwriter, he has mastered the craft of presenting vivid narratives that truly draw you in and make you just feel good about what you are hearing. When listening to this record, I found myself on MANY more than one occasion [per song] feeling like I wish I had come up with 90% of the lines in his writing. Ian truly sticks to the heart and soul of songwriting and where the art originated,  creating well thought out, clever, and for lack of better word, kick-ass tunes.

As track 1 (Something to Remember me by) launches, I immediately get that “This guy loves Bob Dylan” feeling from the song, but delving in further there is much, much more to Ian Fitzgerald and after track 2 starts, I immediately get that “this guy is my new favorite songwriter” feeling. I mean, I am sure he loves and has a high opinion of Dylan, but his work encompasses so much more. You can tell he has honed his skills over years of listening, playing, and frenetically writing about everything he has come across. I have heard a lot of records that come out of Dirt Floor studios, but this is by far my favorite thus far. A lot of the works have Erik Lichter’s distinct stamp on them, and while he adds some impressive instrumentation to it, I really see the collaboration between Erik and Ian here and I think that’s a pretty great thing. Fitzgerald weaves his way through songs evoking feelings of sorrow, pain and perseverance with a road weary, gruff vocal and natural break. There are a also ton of great harmonies on the record as Ian and his female vocal counterpart Courtney Gallagher, play off each other in a truly beautiful, but intensely powerful manner.
My personal favorite track is ‘Galveston’, a haunting walk along a dusty road of recollection and regret of things loved and lost. Beautiful harmonies, a slow churning acoustic rhythm, plowed along with a melodic verse. There are few songs that touch me in a deep emotional way, but something about this track nearly brought me to tears somewhere around Charles/MGH on my way into work this morning. The follow up track, ‘Melinda Down the Line’, is reminiscent of the male equivalent of Gillian Welch in Fitzgerald’s tone, inflection and the sonic quality of the tune. And trust me, that’s a damn good thing! It’s a bit more upbeat, with a driving guitar backed by some fine picking with really great flourishes and feel. A fun tune for sure, and reflects Fitzgerald’s ability to write in a variety of tempos, feelings, and styles while remaining true to his folk roots. He harkens back to the days of great storytellers in the folk genre, a skill that is often lost on a lot guys (and gals) toting acoustic guitars around town.
She lifts up her head from the blanket-less bed / says “I hope you know what a pal you’ve been”
Like love was a handshake, or worse a mistake / and she wished she never left Galveston
This was one of my hardest records to review in my, so far, short lived music review writing career. As much as I tried and tried, it’s really hard to put descriptive phrases and words to a work by a guy who uses descriptive phrases and words so well. Regardless, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this and put it on the old iPod for later. I have a feeling that I will be getting a lost of use out of this record and checking Ian out live soon (by the way…Hey Ian, want to put some gigs together soon?).The entire 10 song work is one incredible song after another. Do yourself a huge favor and check out Ian.

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