(from Out On The Open West out now on Tompkins Square Records)
Frank Fairfield might actually be from another universe that’s evolved different notions of time, past and future, old and new, and perhaps truth—he certainly plays old songs with old technology, and dresses old-style, that seems true. On this album’s first song, “Frazier Blues,” the banjo strikes up, and Fairfield sings low and close, so close he’s breathing in your ear about a hundred years ago. Then “King’s County Breakdown” travels to a barn dance where Fairfield plays lead fiddle, and he’s a-hootin’ like it’s a party—but his is the only voice in the room. Next, “Someday You’ll Be Free” happens some “when” else completely, where Fairfield plays banjo fast and hard, and his voice grows higher and quivers as he sings. The next two songs are actually four songs with names that sound like they belong in another old country place, but “Haste To The Wedding/The Darling True Love” goes where bagpipes come from and “Turkey In The Straw/Arkansas Traveler” seems written at a medieval cocktail party by the guy who woke up a few centuries later and wrote “I’m playing with my baby bumblebee…” From this point on, there is no telling where or when in time these songs come from, whether Fairfield is moving forward, back, or straddling more than one time at a time. Do things sound familiar when they’re not? Or are we merely splashing in the waters of the unconscious universe that holds everything together, where things that sound alike are stored near each other?