Friday, October 2, 2009

Frank Fairfield

Frank Fairfield is a man displaced in time. When one looks at his new CD (released on Tompkins Square Records) one sees a black and white photo of a guy in an old-fahioned suit with his banjo, guitar and fiddle at the ready. It could have been taken in the 20’s, or it could have been taken yesterday. This is appropriate, as he is a modern man playing music written and performed in the style of the 20’s and 30’s. It is without pretense or overt artifice that he renders this music, and it is in the craftsman-like seriousness of its original practitioners that he performs. His performances are so authentic that you will really find yourself staring at the picture of Fairfield over and over and saying, “This guy HAS to be old, he can’t be contemporary.” On a track like “The Blackberry Blossoms” he plays fiddle and sings while keeping the rhythm by stomping his foot. There is nothing else. How, in 2009, could a release like this come out? The answer is simple: as the world turns more rapidly toward instantaneous absorption and homogenization of all things artistic and regional, it is novel and comforting to hear something that sounds like it belongs someplace and sometime other than right now. This is deep-rooted music played with clarity and reverence not an over-produced product tie-in meant to last just today. If you like real songs about actual people played in the way they were first played with no modernization or concession to commercial demands, Frank Fairfield is your guy. I can’t get enough of it myself.

Paul Epstein

No comments: