Fred Eaglesmith Tambourine

Fred Eaglesmith Tambourine.jpg

Submitted by James Lizzard

Says here this is the 20th album from O.G. road dawg Fred Eaglesmith, so don’t expect a re-invention of any wheels.  No need to, this thing has wheels like a long haul truck and even though this particular rig was made in 1966, it chews up the miles and time zones with Fred firmly at the wheel. Pouring out of the cab radio is a roots-rock sound which rocks a little harder here, goes more soulful there, references authentic Tejano figures somewhere else and a Blonde on Blonde further on.

With the Eagle’s time worn rugged rasp showing the way and the magic being captured on an eight-track analogue console, the end result is an album which sounds like it was recorded back in the late Sixties but never previously released. Big ups for the many tasty musical punctuations from the band, including classic Sixties guitar sounds and Stax-style organ riffs.

While Fred can ramble on with the best of ‘em, he can also drop the hammer and deliver the pointed stick in the eye of “Nobody’s Friend” in 1.57 flat. Overall, with nothing clocking in at more than 4.01 (“Engineer”) this is one of dude’s tightest albums and totally devoid of filler.

Thematically, it’s Fred checking out universal verities, i.e. staying true, keeping on, going against the wind, knowing when to hold and when to fold, break-ups, breakouts and breakdowns.

In many cases, it comes with liberal applications of dry as dust humour (see “Drunk Girl” and “Train Wreck.”). Tambourine also holds some of Fred’s prettiest vocals in some time, especially on "That's What You Do” and “Nobody Gets Everything”. On the second track, “Can’t Dance”, Eaglesmith drops a line that covers his career like Granny’s old quilt.

“I ain’t never gonna be a star, but I sure do know how to please a crowd.”

That you do, sir. In hearts and spades.