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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Mike Fredrickson

Souvenirs

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Like clockwork, Mike Fredrickson releases CDs chock full of catchy songs brimming with hook-laden melodies and pithy lyrics. You get the impression that, to him, writing songs is like breathing. Souvenirs adds another chapter in the discography Fredrickson has amassed with The Mosleys and on his own.

What stands out on this album recorded and mixed by John Sieger, with Reggie Bordeaux on drums, are the little touches that define songs. These guys are not trying to fool anyone. They simply employ classic production that further enhances solid songwriting. Blending twang, jangle, country, pop and jazz, the record recalls a time when radio's motto was "genre be damned and full speed ahead."

"Listen Venus" is a plea to love framed by psychotic guitar breaks. "Her Glove" returns to a favorite theme (love lost/love found/love missed by a mile),taking the fits-like-a-glove metaphor and wrapping it in lush backing vocals and an arrangement somewhere between laid-back Bakersfield and the good kind of countrypolitan. "Hang On," featuring Sieger's insistent mandolin riff, recalls the Mosleys classic "Rope of Desire."

Over the years Fredrickson has proven a knack for writing the equivalent of one-act plays. "Lorraine" unfolds with a poor guy falling for a flirty girl aiming to make her boyfriend jealous. A twangy baritone guitar solo highlights the too-good-to-be-true tale. The anthemic "She," co-written with melaniejane, lifts off from Phil Spector and veers toward The Byrds. Fredrickson sounds invested in all of the tunes, with nary a throwaway in the bunch.