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Published: 2003/09/28
by Chip Schramm

In A Town Like This – Fred Tackett

Hot Tomato Records

Fred Tackett of Little Feat fame steps out on his own on In A Town Like
This, turning out a credible solo album with a small, but effective,
supporting cast. The liner notes of the album describe the music contained
on it as "born in the Ozark mountains." Tackett's acoustic guitar picking
and simple, yet colorful, songwriting both serve to illustrate this
heritage. Fred's son Miles Tackett plays violin and cello and also produced
the album. Domenic Genova's skill on upright bass is very impressive. He
employs a variety of techniques on different parts of the album, adding some
subtle nuances to an otherwise minimalist project.

The title track opens the album with an almost nervous, excited tale about
the character of small town Arkansas. Tackett and Genova pick their
instruments swiftly, creating an urgent rhythm to the music. "A Blinding
Faith" is a slow, self-conscious love ballad that seems more like a poem set
to music than an actual song. The lyrics have a broken rhythm that serve as
a loose framework for the well-arranged interplay between the guitar, bass,
and violin lines. Here it sounds as if Genova is playing his bass with a
bow instead of just his hands, varying his approach to the mood of the song.

"Gold Tooth Woman" is a song originally written by Claire Luce. Humorous
and light-hearted, it is reminiscent of the high country bluegrass ballads
sung by John Hartford. "Dance For Patricia" is an instrumental tune that
builds itself upon a surprisingly complex bit of interplay between the three
musicians. Almost like the acoustic jazz of Django Reinhardt, this tune
shows the ensemble at its creative apex.

"A Church Falling Down" opens with Russian-sounding mandolin trills, and
builds upon Fred Tackett's passionate vocal delivery. With allusion to
ghosts and past memories, this is the strongest songwriting on the album.
Inara Georga, daughter of the late Lowell George, provides some guest vocals
on the bittersweet love song "Had We Known Better," to add a little extra
spice to the last half of In A Town Like This. "Honest Man" is the
only Little Feat song on the album, as Tackett shares songwriting credits
with Lowell George.

In A Town Like This is an album that fulfills its potential quite
well. Keeping the lineup simple and the songs heartfelt, Fred Tackett gives
the players plenty of room to improvise in a studio setting. The skill of
Genova on bass is an especially strong compliment to Tackett's vocals and
acoustic guitar picking. The younger Tackett deserves similar kudos to the
arrangement of the instrumental and phrasing of vocals throughout. Fans of
John Hartford-era bluegrass and American folk music will find this album a
rewarding exploration.

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