In the year I’ve been writing for The Even Ground I have reviewed many solo artists working in a variety of genres. I would say the most frequent genre falls into the lofty singer/songwriter, a term I don’t really care for so let’s use solo artist. Many of these solo artists are fledglings at best, not much more than someone with an acoustic guitar, a broken heart, and a slew of pitiful end rhyming lyrics. Naturally after a while I began to develop a disdain for such artists because it became apparent to me that many of them were more concerned with making an album than they were on concentrating on the craft of songwriting.
I’m not a musician myself. I can’t recall if I’ve ever played an actual note in my life. I’m just a guy who loves music and knows how to type. I do however know about craft and patience, which are essential elements in the making of art. California boy Tad Wagner knows this too, and it has paid off for him on his debut solo record Free Enough, eleven solid tracks of melodic indie pop. Free Enough is a culmination of everything Wagner has learned over the years as both a musician and producer for such acclaimed indie acts such as Buellton and the folk pop outfit Petracovich.
After the opening brief and melodic interlude “The Peace Piano” Free Enough gets to pop-rocking on “Trippin' On Easy Street” with bouncy ragtime piano and psychedelic guitars. Its structure is reminiscent of the Beatles psych-pop phase. “Free Enough” switches to a larger canvas which it fills with a slow guitar and drum rock build, interspersed with bright synths which finally come to fruition as the track closes with a magical feeling.
At the center of all the beautifully arranged songs, and the instruments, each of which seems perfectly placed, are Wagner’s Beach Boy-ish vocals, which he delivers effortlessly with the delicacy of blowing a string of perfect smoke rings. He seems most at home with his vocals on tracks like gentle piano based ballad “Coney Island” on which Evan Way and Brette Marie Way sing back up, and also on later tracks like the beautiful and airy Elliot Smith encumbered numbers “Lost on the Bridge” and “Be Good To Yourself.”
Free Enough is good enough to stand up to the many indie folk-rock albums making their way out into the mainstream underground today. And I know there are so many bands that are begging for you to lend them your ears. But do yourself a favor and check out Free Enough first. It’s likely one of the best records you’ll hear all year from an unsigned artist.
We are dedicated to informing the public about the different types of independent music that is available for your listening pleasure as well as giving the artist a professional critique from a seasoned music geek. We critique a wide variety of niche genres like experimental, IDM, electronic, ambient, shoegaze and much more.
Are you one of our faithful visitors who enjoys our website? Like us on Facebook