I remember back when I was seven or eight years old, sitting on the floor of my living room, curiously pouring through my dad’s record collection. At the time, a record labeled with the name Cash, Presley or Lennon had no effect on me. At the time, what came from its grooves was the ultimate motivation for my heart to feel good. The sounds are what I remembered most. Of course later in life I began to relate the feeling and the music’s brilliance with the name, but the purest joy always comes from the first few seconds of the song. When love comes, there is no stopping its power. Seth Freeman, former vocalist/guitarist for Little John, a once great punk/pop trio from Boston, has proved that my eight year-old musical heart still beats. His current EP, One and Only Maybe, is a brilliant example of how honest, tangible music should sound. Intelligently produced with care and substance by former Letter’s to Cleo guitarist, Michael Eisenstein, this recording hits all the marks, crosses all the Ts, and leaves you wanting nothing but another listen.
As the recording begins to play, the first seconds of the title track immediately sounds perfectly seasoned and comfortable to the ear. It is unforgettable, hooky energy wrapped carefully in a warm blanket and is a pound of cure for whatever hurts. Romantic and sweet, the music charms and Seth’s voice holds hands with the most hardened heart. “Losing Streak” is another charming production that is quirky but not uncomfortable. This song is has all the spirit of an Andy Partridge/XTC masterpiece and with any other great pop song you can name. Between the smart arrangement, overall production, and intelligent lyrics, Freeman’s perfect recipe is a dish easily digested. It is purely a fun song to hear.
“Darkest Hour” is endearing and sweet, slow to build, and a comfy cloud of feelings. Vocally and sonically, it is another tune that comes out of the gate with diamond-like qualities that will be heard by even the most critical listener. With its nice tone and magnetism, the listener is pulled in immediately. In a consistent style, “Day we made up” comes out current and full of classic sheen. This piece has hit song written clearly on its forehead and the blood of relevance coursing through its veins. I’m baffled why this song is not leaping from my radio speakers as I sit and write about its wonder. Eisenstein’s production takes the quality of Freeman’s sincerity to a whole other level. The vocals are supported by the plush and pristine backing tones of Kay Hanley, vocalist and additional Letters to Cleo member to grace this recording. Hanley and Freeman ring out to make this the signature tune on the EP.
“Speechless” begins as a mystery but soon exposes some great treasures inside its notes. Another flower, slow to open, but all beauty when it finally shows it’s true color, excellent texture, and masterful production. As the EP comes to an end, “Wondertwins” closes the door with a nice sway and confident strut. It is not only brilliantly played, but its warmth is perfectly executed. Anyone could fall in love with its deep bass and how the song slowly builds and takes itself over at times. It perfectly makes you crave more and more. The greatest lesson learned while listening to this CD should be that once you think you have heard everything great, your ears will always find more joy to appreciate. This is the reason I love music and my heart craves it to live. In six songs an artist has given me a smile, a tear, and a new feeling of hope that great music and writing is alive and well. Thank you Seth for sharing your art with me and helping me to breathe in your fresh air.
"One and Only Maybe" is on sale January 5, 2010 from Buddha Dog.