Aaron Freeman went by the pseudonym Gene Ween for the 28 years that he fronted the alt rock band of the same name, but he returned to his given name for a solo career that started two years back with an album of Rod McKuen covers. On this second outing he does a pretty good impersonation of a singer/songwriter in the classic mould, but as Ween fans might imagine he puts a few twists in to keep things interesting.
What marks Freeman out is a combination of his way with words, which are rarely predictable, beautifully honed guitar playing and plenty of variety on the overall musical theme. This is not as diverse as is found on some of Ween’s albums but the pace and arrangements are varied thanks to a skilful backing band, violin for instance is used on El Shaddai which is followed by the rather archly peculiar Black Bush, which is oddly reminiscent of Kate Bush – maybe the title is a clue. Gimme One More on the other hand is a simple but effective riff combining guitar and organ in infectious style that sits on the edge of a progression which it never quite delivers, this gives it a tension that even a pretty scorching guitar break can’t diffuse.
The sound here has real tone, it’s very seventies in fact, my brother Patrick suggested Big Star which rings true in the guitar breaks. It’s a troubadour style that has been evolving in North American music for decades, a torch carried by the likes of Neil Young, Tom Petty, John Hiatt et al and one which feeds on the revision that Freeman brings to it.