William Ryan Fritch – The Letdown

A new album series, entitled Built Upon A Fearful Void (shortened to ‘Fearful Void Series’), seems an apt choice for 2020. Lost Tribe Sound will be introducing fifteen new albums to their fold, releasing from June 2020 and running through to June 2021. Averaging out at an album a month, the ambitious project opens up with William Ryan Fritch’s The Letdown on June 12, and The Loneliness of the Deep Sea Diver, by Arrowounds, follows on July 17.

The Letdown reveals an entirely new side to label veteran William Ryan Fritch, which is impressive as his discography has already produced a spectrum of differing moods and tonal colours. The multi-instrumentalist will be releasing five new albums as part of the Fearful Void series, including one from his alter ego, Vieo Abiungo, but nothing will sound like The Letdown. Fun, loose, and imbued with a classic film noir atmosphere, it’s upstanding and respectable music from a bygone age, nicely dressed up in a suitably old-fashioned attire while bringing something refreshing and bold to the table.

The Letdown could have been streamed from another era, emanating from the golden period of Hollywood or dating back even earlier, where a tinkling piano tune became the signature sound of a saloon or a bar with a questionable reputation. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, and its old, sepia-tinged atmosphere tints the entire record; it may be trying to bury its head in the past so as to escape and/or forget about the countless troubles of the present, drinking away the pain with a tired and world-weary detective, draped in a trench-coat and wearing a hat, downing whisky or scotch, and perhaps pouring out an ongoing monologue concerning a tall, leggy blonde, but it feels more like an uncovered artefact from the era, like a found footage movie in audio form. There are times when one expects an alluring Jessica Rabbit to emerge from behind a red curtain, and a slack, experimental Jazz settles over the music, smearing it in red lipstick. The finger-clicking, foot-tapping interludes step into the spotlight, showing Fritch’s sheer variety and adaptability, but the lighter vibe seems free of any trouble. The Letdown is a unique record and a splendid evening of entertainment.

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