It would be easy for the EP U.S 50 from New England singer songwriter John Fries to slip into the cracks of that wide genre if he wasn’t such a good guitarists and deeply introspective songwriter. Fries has poured all of his influences into this seven song album, mixing in blues, country, Latin, jazz, and pop sounds into a roots rock stew. The opening track “Another Love,” begins simply enough with a clean Dobro but soon builds a fire by adding greasy electric slide and beefy bass and drums from with rhythm section of Pat Perry on bass and drummer Ron Lewis who he calls “The Heat.” The song is at first listen taken for a typical love song, but as it seeps in you realize Fries isn’t taking about a woman, it’s his music and his guitar he pleading with. Thus setting the tone for a collection of songs that on the surface are upbeat and full of lively performances but have a deeper melancholy far below and speak of an artist who has traveled that long road alluded to in the titled. The jazzy romp “Defeat” bounces along with a Jimmy Buffet groove, complete with a samba party drum break and a scalding guitar solo and Allman brothers style hooks; such a happy sound for a break up song. Fries gets super soulful with the horn section infected “We Can Lie,” showing off his vocal skills as he emulates Van Morrison and Marvin Gaye. The lush Fender Rhoads tones from Kerry Pulaski also add to the timeless feel of this swinging track. Fries demonstrates his knack for pop song craft on “Technicolor You,” with its clever sing along chorus and infectious guitar hooks. Like that long stretch of highway where you uncover something new each time you travel down it, so is the music of john Fries who on the surface comes across as just another in a long list of guitar players, but if you give it another spin you’ll find a few surprises along the way.
Rick J Bowen
a little live video from JOhn Fries and the Heat "Another Love."