Andy Friedman & The Other Failures: Weary Things

andyfriedman_wearythingsFolk, country, blues and recitations from the wilds of Brooklyn

The mean streets of Brooklyn, NY are host to a thriving collection of hootenannies, hoedowns, jamborees, and scattershot oprys, jugfests and birthday bashes that must leave Manhattan city folk jealous of their outerborough cousins. Third-generation Brooklynite Andy Friedman found his way to the scene by drawing ever-widening musical circles around a background in visual arts. He started with recitations of spoken word lyrics placed alongside his paintings and drawings, added layers of improvisational musical accompaniment at his live shows, and slowly transformed his work with more traditional arrangements that span folk, country rock, twangy blues and studio touches. You can still hear the self-guided evolution in singing that reveals Friedman’s narrative voice.

The title of this sophomore album, Weary Things, highlights the physical lethargy in Friedman’s singing, as well as the mental wear of yearning for feelings and times that have aged out of a grown-up’s life. He’s tired, but it’s often a good kind of tired: the tired born of life experience and coping with the curveballs thrown by the world. Friedman gazes longingly at the irresponsibility of youth and the grab-bag freedoms of a cross-country trip. He finds independence in touring but is subsumed by the road’s isolation from family, declaring the former in the electric blues shuffle “Road Trippin’” and giving in to the latter on the acoustic apologia “Road Trippin’ Daddy.” Cleverly, the lyrics of both songs are the same but the arrangement and vocal tone rewrite their meaning.

Friedman’s self-discovery offers a matured version of Jonathan Richman’s childlike wonder. He’s humorous without being jokey, arch without being ironic, like writer Nicholson Baker without the OCD. Well, mostly without the OCD, as the encyclopedic eulogy for his home base, Freddy’s Backroom, stretches to eight-minutes of barstool detail. He writes philosophically of his background as a painter, and like many of the Brooklyn hillbillies, paints against the backdrop of their urban milieu. He’s sufficiently self-assured to pierce his own hipness with the overly dramatic aside, “Hello young loners, wherever you are,” and closes the album a rousing take of “The Friedman Holler” recorded live in Chicago. Friedman’s sentimental, tough, sloppy, resilient, irascible, capricious and pragmatic, but most of all he’s honest, and that honesty is the fuel of country songwriting whether it’s ignited in the hills of Appalachians or the heights of Brooklyn. [©2009 hyperbolium dot com]

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One Response to “Andy Friedman & The Other Failures: Weary Things”

  1. You turn an excellent phrase my friend….”and the grab-bag freedoms of a cross-country trip”….indeed. American roots music is really the only authentic music out there. Let me rephrase that. Roots music constantly regenerates itself in new waves of discovery. Whether its the “Rock Star”, the metal-head kid next door, the experimental poet/performers. or the burned out audience tired of the same old same old…Roots music’s rich variety & complex DNA help us all too see the “connectedness” of all the genres & sub-genres & sub-sub-genres. Any songwriter worth his or her salt will at some point start exploring & ….well, you know the rest. I fear I ramble.
    Well done, a very nice read & music.

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