A very easy trap for contemporary folk artists (and, in fact, all artists across all mediums) is to exploit the fan base by playing up the nostalgic essence of the genre, creating a sense of illusory comfort and joy through reminding us of a past we have not even lived. However, sometimes, an artist transcends this manipulation and instead produces a work that is honestly channelling the organic longing for the past, creating a real feeling of nostalgia rather than a facade. The latter effect is masterfully achieved by Jonny Fritz in his new record, Sweet Creep, produced by Jim James of My Morning Jacket and recorded in studio with a band featuring several members of Dawes.
Between his reverent melodies and vivid imagery through verse, Fritz creates a Don McLean-esque world that feels like home. From the very start, the album brings this writer immediately back to the young, innocent Summers spent in the upper peninsula of Michigan, listening to Buddy Holly and John Denver on cassette.
Though the album is solid from cover to cover with no fluff or throwaway tracks, Cries After Making Love is a clear standout in both its hypnotizing melody and its vulnerable and candid lyrics, pushing forward with a sort of relentless melancholy nature that raises every hair on the listener’s body. On the opposite side of the spectrum, the second to last track, Chilidog Morning, is another standout, but because of its carefree, lighthearted, and playful nature that can’t help but trigger a smile.
A sincere and visceral record, Sweep Creep offers a phenomenal listening experience for folk fans of all generations and has given this listener a new favorite Fall album.