Fred Thomas portrays poetic self-doubt as life experience on Changer
Fred Thomas, the prolific Michigan indie-rock veteran who gained notoriety for his work with Saturday Looks Good To Me, wants to pour his heart out to you.
Although he lives in Montreal now, Thomas spent many years navigating the Ann Arbor music scene releasing material ranging from full-length albums to limited edition experimental CD-Rs and cassettes on numerous independent labels. He even published a zine called Defects Mirror. Eventually, the solo siren came calling with 2015's All Are Saved receiving critical praise and accolades from fans alike. Fred Thomas has a new solo album titled Changer due for release in late January. His stream of consciousness lyrics as showcased in the track Brickwall tell a personal tale whether it's discovering you're no longer part of the old gang or drinking a six-pack to numb the reality of falling into a nostalgia trip. Thomas gleans those moments of self-doubt and introspection everyone experiences with a brimming hope that all these distractions are all really just a part of life. The stripped down electric guitar approach sets the overall tone for the turbulent life of a musician trying to make sense of the world.
Thomas was opening a handful of Midwest shows for his Detroit friends Protomartyr before the official January release of the album. The tour stopped in Madison at the High Noon Saloon. Live, it's just Thomas and his guitar plugged into a Vox amp holding vigil to his pointed lyrics. He paces around stage between verses aggressively adding guitar inflections like he's leading a mythical backing band. The rebellious attitude of Ted Leo and the lyricism of Jim Carroll come to mind as Thomas commands the attention of the audience. Even more impressive he pulls this off solo in front of a crowd salivating for Protomartyr. I couldn't decide whether the subject matter of Voiceover from the new album, performed in an almost spoken word delivery, was coming from a personal journal or the couch of an psychiatric therapy session channeled through a guitar. Either way, I wanted to hear more!
After the show, I was able to catch up with Fred who was excited about the prospects of the new album and his record label Polyvinyl. Changer is out on January 27.