Frank Fairfield (2009, Tompkins Square Records)
Judging this album by its sleeve and the record it contains, you would assume it was a recently unearthed treasure from Depression-era American Midwest. In fact, it’s the debut release by 26 year-old LA resident and 78′ enthusiast Frank Fairfield, a man who clearly believes that his nation’s musical good times are a long time gone.
Artists who slavishly walk in the footsteps of tradition often leave me cold, smacking too much of affectation and appropriating the dramatic tropes of the past to hide inadequacies in their songs. However, Fairfield plays banjo, guitar and fiddle with such vigour and hollers or moans his blues with genuine passion, making it hard to dismiss this record and easy to appreciate his reverence for the era he evokes.