For anyone who has followed the career of Fred Squire over the past decade, you'll know that he's involved in a lot of other people's musical projects, but he's never been one to promote his own solo material. So it's a bit of a shock that we've even got to the point where he has an album of his to sell you. We've got Blue Fog Records (Andre Ethier, Castlemusic) to thank for putting it out, but first, a round of applause goes to Fred himself for actually sitting down and making this beautiful record.
While there are quite a few readily available albums to feature his talents, including several albums and EPs from Shotgun & Jaybird (the group he co-fronted with Shotgun Jimmie from 2003-2007), as well as Julie Doiron's latest album I Can Wonder What You'll Do With Your Day, Mt. Eerie's Lost Wisdom, and last year's Daniel, Fred & Julie record, Fred has always kept his solo output to small runs of CD-Rs—sometimes as few as 50. In fact, this album started off much the same way, as a CD-R being sold on a Daniel, Fred & Julie tour earlier this year. Now that it has a wider release more people will get to hear the tremendous talents of this Ajax, Ontario native.
It's never made clear what the significance of the date March 12 is, though to hazard a guess it could be the day the album was recorded. It's not impossible to believe the whole thing was done in a day or two, but the quick fashion in which it was made would explain a lot. After spending many years on the road playing other people's songs, perhaps Fred felt it was time to let himself be heard. He certainly pours a lot of himself into the lyrics—on "Old Times Past New Times", he sings about "decisions that I've made". The song "The Future of Tradition" was written as a response to the traditional tune "Frankie & Albert" (covered on last year's Daniel, Fred and Julie album); the words are written as a back and forth exchange between Albert, singing from his grave, and Frankie, moments before her execution. Tying it all together is Fred's understated piano, guitar, and voice. There's no studio trickery to be found here—in fact, on the back of the record's sleeve he lists every piece of equipment he used to make the album. All in all, it's a refreshingly honest album, created entirely by one person at his home. Don't skip over it; it's one of the year's best.