New Year and “New View” from Eleanor Friedberger

19 Feb

For a little more than a decade, Eleanor Friedberger was half of an indie rock band called the Fiery Furnaces, which she had formed with her brother, Matthew. The band’s final studio album was released in 2009, and after a brief tour in 2011, Fiery Furnaces went on hiatus.

That opened the door for Eleanor Friedberger and her brother to begin their successful solo careers. The singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist released her first solo album, Last Summer, in the summer of 2011. She followed that with Personal Record — a great collection of catchy pop-rock songs, each with a story to tell — in 2013.

Now, in 2016, we get a new album from Friedberger and a New View.

After living in New York City for virtually her entire music career, Friedberger recently moved to a more rural setting in upstate New York. And the move has provided her with the inspiration for a refreshing take on life in a tight set of 11 memorable indie-rock songs.

The music on this album is traditional, guitar-based indie pop-rock, supplemented with organ. It draws on the proven rock formulas of the 1960s and 1970s, without being derivative.

As Friedberger has evolved through her solo work, her style has become more personal and conversational, with intelligent, insightful lyrics about life’s everyday smiles and disappointments.

The album starts with a tape machine spinning up — a nod to a previous era when pop-rock songs were king in the 1970s and were recorded on analog tape. The catchy melody of the opener, “He Didn’t Mention his Mother,” moves at a leisurely jog with some great jangling guitar riffs, organ counterpoint and a mesmerizing rhythm.

Track 9, “All Known Things,” is a bright, up-tempo song with heartfelt lyrics to a lover. Friedberger’s vocals are accompanied by strummed acoustic guitar, jangly electric guitar and some synth.

Track 6, “Never Is a Long Time,” is a melancholy, mid-tempo ballad featuring a fingerpicked acoustic guitar.

Track 5 is a funky, bouncy, jazzy tune that could have been taken right out of a Van Morrison songbook. There’s great guitar noodling (from Friedberger, I assume, although another guitarist by the name of Malcolm Perkins also performed on the record) and some playful organ adding to the 1970s flavor.

New View is brimming with great melodies and some pretty hot guitar licks as well from both Friedberger and Perkins. Maybe it’s time for a new perspective to start your new year right — from Eleanor Friedberger.

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