Tom Freund: Two Moons

TomFreund_TwoMoonsFormer Silos bassist extends his catalog as a singer-songwriter

Tom Freund is a songwriter who’s something of a musical chameleon. His latest release opens with “Angel Eyes,” a tune whose sharp edged lyric, “funny how when you leave L.A. you gotta drive into the desert / out of the frying pan and into the fire,” is worthy of Randy Newman. Freund’s lap steel further echoes Los Angeles with its David-Lindley-esque tone, and his guitar complements Al Gamble’s organ on “Heavy Balloon” with atmospheric notes and a meaty solo that builds the track to its close. The latter is a fitting background to a lyric that graduates from ambivalence to skepticism to possibility to hope.

Such sophisticated, and often contrasting, shades of emotion are central to Freund’s songwriting. “Happy Days Lunch Box,” ostensibly a nostalgic tribute to childhood, is freighted with adult hindsight, and the anti-love song “Next Time Around” paradoxically embraces the missing embrace of a partner and wraps it in a 20s-styled tune. The album’s bittersweet closer “Sweetie Pie” is an appreciation of a love that’s ended, sung to acoustic guitar and bass. Freund has a nasally voice that suggests Dylan, songwriter Moon Martin, and on the riff-driven “Grooves Out of My Heart,” Joe Walsh, with a nod to Led Zeppelin in the fadeout for good measure.

Freund phrases like Paul Simon on “Same Old Shit Different Day,” and his plea for acceptance “Let Me Be Who I Wanna Be” provides the same sort of rallying flag as Sonny Bono’s “Laugh at Me,” but with a tone that’s satisfied rather than reactionary. In addition to the deft songwriting and wide-ranging musical palette, Freund’s production includes well-placed touches of strings, horns, ukulele and vintage keyboards, guest harmonica from Stan Behrens, and backing vocals from Ben Harper, Brett Dennen and Serena Ryder. Freund’s imagination as a songwriter is matched by his reach as an arranger and producer, making this collection both varied and cohesive. [©2014 Hyperbolium]

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