August 29, 2012
FRED EAGLESMITH’S 6 VOLTS STILL DRAWING RAVES
Highlight Track “Johnny Cash” Captures Rocker’s Core Themes
(ANYWHERE, North America) As rock and roll renegade Fred Eaglesmith rambles across North America defying modern music business convention, converts are embracing his gritty, road-worn and simple-yet-powerful approach. Touring in support of his current album 6 Volts, Eaglesmith continues to earn the attention of radio and media.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune notes that Eaglesmith is “nothing if not prolific” and goes on to say, “His songs have been covered by country superstars (Toby Keith, Alan Jackson) and rock cult figures (Todd Snider, Kasey Chambers), and the guy also does a lot of visual art, with his paintings turning up in galleries and museums. That ain’t bad for a Canadian kid who left home at 15, hitchiking and hopping trains, and who started his performing career in hobo camps.”
The University of Washington’s KEXP-FM says: “The latest album from veteran Ontario troubadour is one of his finest collections of songs in quite awhile. Recorded in mono with the band gathering around a single microphone, the sound is raw and intimate, with jagged bursts of shuddering electric guitar providing a raucous edge to an otherwise rootsy blend of pedal steel, banjo, mandolin, drums and Eaglesmith’s weathered vocals. That raw, homemade sound helps power a consistently strong set of deeply poignant hard-luck tales, murder ballads, road songs and more.
And the Ithaca Times says, “Sharp, funny, and sad, [Eaglesmith] sings in a tradition of the best troubadour artist, but with a nod to satire. Whether you are a ‘Fredhead’ or you are more a fan of the character studies found in contemporary hip-hop, his work is sure to resonate. He’s been releasing solid albums for more than 30 years … his 19th album, 6 Volts, is as good as his first.”
And if there’s anthem on 6 Volts that best captures Eaglesmith’s issues with the hollow allegiance today’s mainstream music engenders, it’s “Johnny Cash.”
“Rock and roll has lost its edge,” he says matter-of-factly. “It went astray somewhere – went soft. It used to be a movement that wasn’t about politics or business or marketing.” Eaglesmith alludes to that erosion of honesty in the song:
You sure do like Johnny Cash now
Now that they put him in the ground
You hang his poster on your ceiling
His songs give you a real good feeling
Where were you in 1989
When it looked like Johnny was on the decline
His career was fading and his shows weren’t selling
You were listening to heavy metal
But you sure do like Johnny Cash now
In a battered bus with a vegetable oil power plant, Eaglesmith and his band live a nomadic life that reflects the early days of rock through a modern lens. “You gotta get the grease out from under your nails before the show,” Eaglesmith says of his full-time music, part-time mechanic job description.
“A few weeks ago we got to a venue and, surprise, had to build our own stage, set up sound and lights and set out the chairs. But the show sold out and the audience gets it. They understand real when they see it … and they want to support it.”