“A friend and I were running from the police one night, and I accidentally fell off a cliff.” I like a good origin story as much as anyone, but this line from Nate Fredrick’s press release really caught my attention. Turns out, the Springfield, Missouri native used the two-year recovery period following his misadventure to focus more on being an artist, rather than some guy bangin’ on a guitar. The result of that long, unique process is Fredrick’s debut album, Different Shade of Blue, a collection of lessons learned and hard-won maturity.
The lead single on the record, “Paducah,” portrays that trip to maturity via a drive from Nashville to Springfield (passing through Paducah) that Fredrick made several times. Full of pedal steel, the tune reflects that part of growing up that we all experience – “I can’t tell if I’m leaving home or headed home again.” And the quiet comfort of a lonely highway leaves too much room for thought – “This seven hour drive hadn’t done much changing/What it does to the mind of a man I can’t say the same.”
Along this trip that Fredrick’s been on, there have been relationships of one sort or another. “Be The One” is a breezy beginning to the album, driven along with acoustic guitar and organ, and it portrays the most genteel of come-ons – “If you’re lazy and you’re looking to get something done, baby let me be the one.” Sadder, though, is “All Over You Again.” With a chorus like, “I was trying to get over you but here I am all over you again,” the song could’ve been a honky-tonk lament, but Fredrick goes for a more restrained arrangement – piano, violin, subtle guitar – that gives the song the wistfulness it deserves, helping you understand why he keeps giving in: “About the time the pain’s all gone/You come back like you didn’t do no wrong.” The best country love songs are the ones that draw out the pain, and this does exactly that.
However, If it’s old-school country heartache that you’re more into, with lots of slide guitar and a chorus fully belted out, you’ll find it on “Forget Ever Lovin’ Me.” The title comes from a joke Fredrick’s sister made after a bad night out, and the songwriter maintains that flippance in lines like, “Well, don’t ask me how I feel, then cry about what I say.” It’s a non-apology apology, with a few kernels of truth buried beneath the snark. More sincere (and sadder) is the album’s capper, “Patches.” Along with Dobro, piano and subtle harmonies, Frederick sings of things swallowed up by time (an old pair of jeans, a junker of a car and a fading relationship) with a simple, relatable sadness – “Some things you can fix ‘til they just stay broke” – and empathy – “I suppose even people wear out sometimes.” Maturity achieved (though I’ll still be needing a song about that night that ended at the bottom of a cliff…)
Song I Can’t Wait to Hear Live: “All Over You Again” – because I like being sad in public.
Different Shade of Blue was produced by David Dorn, engineered by Caleb Fisher and mixed and mastered by John Behrens. All songs were written by Nate Fredrick, with co-writing credits going to Ryan Nelson, Matt Daniel, Ben Chapman, Matt McKinney, Vinnie Paolizzi, Chad Bishop, Harper O’Neill, and Joybeth Taylor. Additional musicians on the album include Jon Conley (electric guitar), Tim Denbo (bass guitar), David Dorn (piano, keyboards), Aaron Rochotte (drums, percussion), Rusty Danmyer (pedal steel), Scott Murray (Dobro), Quincey Meeks (harmonica), Meg Mcree (violin), Julia Fisher (violin, viola), and Matt Daniel and Harper O’Neill (background vocals)
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