Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Daniel, Fred & Julie - Daniel, Fred & Julie

Daniel, Fred & Julie

Daniel, Fred & Julie
You’ve Changed Records.

SCQ Rating: 83%

People roll their eyes at the mention of supergroups for good reason. When they aren’t comprised of ex-pats from zeitgeist-grabbing rock bands, they’re typically friends who treat the proceedings as a side-project to garner some extra press. From Chickenfoot and Audioslave to last fall’s Monsters of Folk, how else can one explain such shrugging results but that all the ego-checking and compromising that comes with group-work ends up creating homogenous indifference? Well, our collective impatience with lackluster supergroups received a breathless slap in the face in December with Daniel, Fred & Julie’s self-titled collaboration, which reworks a bounty of classic folk songs while adding a few lovely originals to the genre.

Dealing with compositions dating back nearly a century, Daniel Romano (of Attack In Black), Fred Squire (of Calm Down It’s Monday) and the ever-awesome Julie Doiron met up in Sackville, New Brunswick to hammer out this love-letter to folk on a four-track recorder. Such unassuming production – entirely mono, kinda distant-sounding – provides an old-fashioned warmth that the old classics still resonate with, but the main draw to this collaboration is hearing three singular songwriters breathing fresh air into well-trodden covers. The updated arrangements of ‘I Dream of Jeanie’ and ‘Down By the Weeping Willow’ are gorgeous renditions, delicately perfected with three-part harmonies but performed with a brisk, take-it-or-leave-it confidence. The effortless brilliance of this collection runs deepest on cuts like ‘The Gambler and His Bride’ – a finger-picked murder-ballad – as the grim subject matter and moods of these songs never sour the listener’s enjoyment.

As a great fan of Daniel Romano’s work in Attack In Black, this self-titled effort has the additional allure of containing some Romano-penned originals. Although ‘Runner’ is sung (rather perfectly, I might add) by Squire and ‘Your Love’ is a low-key choral sung by all three, these new songs are sewn so neatly into the classics, I had to research which tracks were written recently. Whether teary-eyed with a beer or narrating tragic tales of the heart, Daniel, Fred & Julie is a heartwarming release of covers and originals that suitably feels both familiar and new again. And suddenly, that Monsters of Folk collaboration seems even less relevant...

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