Tulsa songwriter Joey Frendo dropped his release Bound for Heartache this past Friday April 21st.
Joey Frendo is a Michigan native who relocated to Tulsa in 2020 in the midst of the pandemic and following the unfortunate loss of his mother. A pair of incidents that while now looking back at, he says helped shape this collection of songs. Personal, introspective and most importantly to me, these songs feel, authentic. That kind of combination usually bodes well, and I’d say it’s right on the money here.
“Bound for Heartache” is Frendo’s full length debut and the follow-up to a self produced EP, “Stone Mason’s Son”, that Frendo released in 2021 and regrettably flew under my radar until now. This is one of those situation where that now feels like a missed opportunity. Better late than never I suppose. Gritty and substantial, Frendo’s songs are the type that draw you in with catchy and soulful hooks, but it’s the lyrics that really keep you listening. About the album, he says, “I think more than anything, this record speaks on the stories we tell ourselves,” Frendo continues, “It captures pieces of that dialogue we constantly have with ourselves — how life is always unfolding, leaving you to shade in the details, and how those stories affect where we end up and how we interact with others along the way.”
Musically, there’s a whole lot to unpack here. His press release labels him “equal parts alt-country, Petty-esque jangly guitar anthems and bonafide Red Dirt twang.” I don’t know that I agree with much of that description personally, but that’s not to say someone else might hear those elements and think it’s spot on. Certainly the alt-country portion applies, and there is unquestionably a lot of varying influences to be found buried in the foundation of Frendo’s songs. I’ll leave that up to each listener’s judgment, and I think you’ll enjoy the assignment as much as I did.
If I had a complaint, it’s that the album’s ten tracks only clock in at just over 35 minutes. That said, this is one of those situations where quality wins out over quantity. In fact, this is one of those albums that just keeps getting better and better, listen after listen. Standouts for me were the sweeping hooks of “Wild Pilot” and “Nebraska Rain.” I’ve always been a sucker for a good ballad, and Frendo has proven to me that he can certainly nail a good ballad. In the same vein, I loved “High and Tight,” especially with its B3 and some of those introspective lyrics that hit hard, “My body wrote some checks my brain couldn’t cash,” “When it comes down to it, I gave my best years up for free.” There’s that authenticity I mentioned. If pressed, I guess I could have done without the Hank and Waylon name dropping in “Old-Fashioned Country Singer,” but the fiery and familiar slide guitar, gave the song enough of a bluesy, smokey roadhouse feel that it kept in in my wheelhouse. “Get What You Get,” “Leavin’ Eden,” and the album’s closer “Building on Quicksand” also checked all the boxes for me. I just didn’t expect it, but over and over, with each song Frendo had me more and more in his corner.
I think the thing that won me over the most was just how good the record sounds overall. I really like the fact that the album sounds like an album Frendo wanted to record. Every player on this record deserves an acknowledgment as they’re an important factor in just how good Bound for Heartache is, and well, that’s really darn good (Jesse Aycock I’m looking at you). Joey Frendo has impressed me with Bound for Heartache. There’s a smartness and a maturity to the album’s “feel” that takes it far beyond being just a debut. Get in on Frendo while it’s early, because I’ve got a feeling it’s going to be a fun ride. There’s certainly something here for just about everyone.
Check out more about Joey Frendo by vising his website here:
Produced by Joey Frendo and Jason Weinheimer Recorded and mixed by Jason Weinheimer • Recorded at Fellowship Hall Sound in Little Rock, AR • Mastered at Foster Mastering by Ryan Foster • Art and Design by Carl Carbonel
Joey Frendo: vocals, acoustic guitar, harmonica
Paul Griffith: drums
Paddy Ryan: drums, percussion
Jason Weinheimer: bass, rhythm guitar, baritone guitar, slide guitar, Mellotron, BGV’s
Philippe Bronchtein: pedal steel, piano, organ
Jesse Aycock: electric guitar, lap steel, pedal steel, piano
Mallory Eagle: harmony vocals
Fats Kaplan: fiddle
Greg Spradlin: Telecaster
All songs written by Joey Frendo (BMI)
Enjoy our previous coverage here: Song Premiere: Joey Frendo “Wild Pilots”