Skip Friel – Passage (New Moon Music)
“Passage” is Skip Friel’s second solo album, following on from 2007’s “Twilight Red Sky”. Previously he’d recorded an album with his brother (released as The Friel Brothers) and led his band, The Resonators, to much regional acclaim in his home state of Virginia. In fact they’re still going, playing a chilled, leisurely version of bluesy, folky roots music, Americana and alt. country. Friel’s solo material is probably just as easygoing as his band’s, but equally, on his new record, there’s no shortage of rock-solid tunes or grown-up, literate songwriting.
Upbeat and positive in their message, Friel’s songs are delivered with an unhurried elegance. Though nominally a solo record, there appears to be no shortage of musicians plying their trade on “Passage”. A rich, full production is the result (his brother Randy worked the mixing desk), and Friel’s potent vocal plays well with assorted strings and keys, and veteran Nashville legend Charlie Austin’s fiddle. They set their stall out with “Dose of Hope”, it’s animated arrangement feels comfortable and relaxed, and Friel sings the song with an effortless grace. “Transcending” looks to older rock ‘n’ roll rhythms and threatens a revival of sorts, and “Peace At a Time” feels directly related to mid ‘70s British pub rockers like Graham Parker and Paul Carrack. Fingers crossed, “Passage” should make Friel some new fans.