’12 Songs’ by Dean Friedman (Album)
More than 40 years since the release of his debut album, this American singer-songwriter is still serving up the goods
Veteran New Jersey-born songwriter, Dean Friedman has been on a solid run of late. His last two albums, 2010’s Submarine Races and 2014’s Words & Music showed that he got plenty of fuel left in the tank. Up next is 12 Songs, his eighth studio album and a showcase for his consummate writing talent.
Listening to Friedman is often like entering a bar and noticing a piano player in the corner. Try as you might to ignore them, you can’t help but lend an ear and before long you’ve entered their world – though in Friedman’s case it’s quite an eclectic world. Your Pretty Face and The Hummingbird Effect might be classic piano tracks but Time Flies is a spacey sci-fi trip, The Kite Song comes with added blasts of jazz brass and Then You has the essence of a big rock number. There’s a feeling of spontaneity to 12 Songs, as if Friedman has been guided by the muse to wherever it wished him to follow.
There is one constant though and that is the scattergun vocal delivery and storytelling approach to lyric writing. This peaks on The Ducks Of St Stephen’s Green, a song about the 1916 Easter Uprising in Ireland and some feathered friends caught up in the fighting. It’s a clever twist sung over a simple guitar backing and it’s songs like this which are the reason we’d be willing to step back into Dean’s Bar any time.
Verdict: A songwriter who remains interesting