Freedman's piano and voice sound like soulmates in duet -- as long as you can overlook the cliché-imprisoned lyrics.
If an album's quality could be roughly divvied into three specific categories -- instrumentation, vocals and lyrics -- then Skott Freedman would score a solid two-out-of-three for his fourth recording, Some Company (Violent Yodel). Passionately composed and feverishly sung, Freedman's piano and voice sound like soulmates in duet -- as long as you can bear the overwrought, cliché-imprisoned lyrics.
For a 23-year-old bisexual from Jersey, Freedman's done okay for himself. He's garnered props from Billboard and was a winner at last year's OUTMUSIC Awards, not to mention his stint as a performer at the 2002 Gay Games in Sydney, Australia. As the youngest board member at the Bisexual Foundation, he's crisscrossed the country with his advocacy efforts, jamming for the Human Rights Campaign, various Pride events and network TV.
For Some Company, Freedman pared down to just vocals and keys, evoking a Sheila Nicholls-like energy in reverse: rather than prop up the piano with his voice, the piano carries each song along like a current of air. His vocal range is nothing less than exceptional, and Freedman uses his abilities as a pianist to smooth out, rather than punctuate, his arching and plunging pitch.
But while his potency as a musician helps to dull the banality of his lyrics -- lyrics that have been hailed by the Georgetown Hoya as offering "consistent vision into his thoughts and emotions " -- this doesn't quite uproot the righteous indignation that sometimes wriggles through. Freedman seems to pity the friend who advises him not to offer a dime to a panhandler -- his own compassion tells him that forking over is the right thing to do. A moral quandary, indeed.
Fortunately, music doesn't package into three tidy separate-but-equal slots, and the admirable sum of the parts on Some Company well exceeds a paltry two-thirds. With justice, Freedman seems destined for success on the elegant side of indie.
Skott Freedman's CD release show takes place at Soho Coffee & Tea, 2150 P Street NW, on February 7th at 9:30 p.m.
Five Way Friday lists two of their influences as Silkworm and Willie Nelson. Maybe so, but after being wrung through their college-rock wringer, Wrecked (Redeye) sounds less like Willie and more like a Goo Goo Dolls cover band. A flop on all fronts, this album has few truly affecting moments.
Lead singer Randy Helmly's nasally delivery is instantly grating, and not sufficiently buried under the mountains of fuzzy, contemplation-free guitar riffs. One can imagine halter-topped sophomore blondes swooning to this while not hearing a word -- "She always told me that one day I would cry/I should have listened ‘cause good girls don't lie. " Ugh.
Produced by Hootie guitarist Mark Bryan, who apparently had time enough on his hands, Wrecked is a fax of a fax of the ubiquitous bad college radio already out there.