Brand-new band Nick Froelich features Nick Froelich (vocals/piano), Nick Warren (electric bass) and Logan Frewen (drums). The band is a vehicle for frontman and pianist Froelich to arrange and perform original music he was writing while attending school. Froelich met the rest of the band members while attending the University of Michigan School of Music, studying Performing Arts Technology and Jazz Studies. Their latest album Fire Escape is centered on piano-led numbers that is similar to other singer/songwriter pianists like Billy Joel and Elton John. In fact, a lot of their sound is largely owed to ‘90s piano rock band Ben Folds Five. There is a sensibility that definitely feels in debt to Ben Folds while certain parts sound like a perfect fit for the show tunes or Broadway crowd. There’s a theatrical-ness to the vocals that you might find inescapable. There are also instances of jazz and bluesy lounge in the music, as the band changes up the pace for some real cool tunes. There’s a lot packed into these nine-tracks as Nick Froelich carries the torch for other like-minded bands before them.
Fire Escape starts it off with “Unprepared.” In a stop and go motion, Froelich’s vocals are dynamic and filled with charm. Balancing piano with bass and drums, there was just something about the energy of the band that reminded me of a Broadway show. The track also had a sing-songy quality to it that would make it great to sing-along to. Up next is the jazzy “Right On Cue.” I greatly enjoyed the energy of this piece. The jaunty rhythms and catchy beat really made this song. The harmonies fit right in. Froelich’s vocals sounded really great here. A staccato beat meets the start of “Rain.” As the groove slowly grows in traction, next a meandering piano melody eases in. What erupts is a cool bluesy lounge vibe. The smooth jazzy notes could also be felt here. This changes up toward the chorus where the sound becomes bigger and louder. This felt like another inviting piece to dive right into.
Starting off on a somber note, the band makes a departure from their more hard-hitting energy and trades this up for a ballad-based sound on “Close To Me.” I was equally swayed by the vocals and the outpouring of mood and feeling. More music in the ballad vein, the vocals are simply accompanied with piano which starts off “Real?” The resonating simplicity really went to give this song an emotional emphasis. The powerful notes of this track really took flight here. More of the band’s high-energy returns with this delightfully spooky number on “Ceiling Fan.” The bass rhythms make for an eerie, spine-chilling feel. As the saloon-like piano powers through, this felt like an operatic rock anthem in the vein of The Rocky Picture Horror Show. This proved to be a highlight out of the bunch.
On “Too Far Out From The Shore,” more piano ballad-based sounds move forward here. Froelich’s vocals here are heartfelt and filled with melancholy. There was an overall sorrowful sound that fills this track. You can definitely feel the broken-heartedness in Froelich’s vocals. On “Tightly,” some jazzy percussive beats start off this song. Froelich’s vocals bring in a very ‘50s and ‘60s era doo-wop-like vibe. The classic rock notes are prevalent here. The band definitely shows their flair for jazz-driven pieces with the great energy coming from this number. Froelich’s vocals here are somber on “Actually Said Something,” easing us into the melancholy notes of this soaring ballad. Simply rendered on just piano and layered vocal harmonies, the sound slowly builds becoming more and more powerful. More in the pensive ballad form, the band keeps things contemplative on this introspective closer.
Froelich takes the lead on this album with his commanding stage presence. In the backdrop, the other band members keep things top-notch. The band’s immediate sound keeps things consistent from start to finish. You can’t help but be riveted by their sound, a mixture of theater and ‘90s piano rock. This is a great intro to the band and I look forward to seeing what’s up next for them.
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