Jennifer Barron Fishman, vocals/percussion;
Tim Menard, vocals, guitar, harmonica, bass drum;
Lori Polzak, vocals/percussion; and
Cathie Van Wert, violin/vocals.
Fallen Angels have been performing in the Chicago area since 1997, and have played numerous shows with bands such as Freakwater and Brementown, as well as headlining various venues, including FitzGeralds, The Hideout, Uncommon Ground, and The Charleston Tavern.
Their C.D. features nine original songs and includes special performances from Grant Tye, guitarist for Robbie Fulks and The Juleps, Matt Weber and Chris Grady of Mount Pilot and James Wagner of Meet The Head. It was recorded at Sound Dog Studios and was engineered and co-produced by David Axelbaum, who has worked with artists such as Stevie Ray Vaughn, Bob Seger, Johnny Winter and Koko Taylor.
Fans of their live shows should enjoy this collection quite a bit. Front man Tim Menard, who penned eight of the nine compositions here (Jennifer Barron Fishman added "Open to the Future" ) said that the goal was to "capture the sound you'd hear when you come to see us live."
When they play at clubs, Fallen Angels pepper these original tunes throughout sets that include songs by Johnny Cash, Allison Krauss, John Hiatt, and perennial favorite Hank Williams. They tend to select tunes from these artists that may not leap immediately to mind when you consider their established collected work. Of the Johnny Cash tunes, for example, sure, there's "Folsom Prison Blues" in the Fallen Angels repertoire (which is now upwards of 80 songs) but there may also be the more obscure (and even better bar song) "Hey Porter" mixed in there, too. Another crowd pleaser is the Hank Williams song "My Bucket's Got a Hole In It." But on to this release.
Menard has been writing songs since he was sixteen years old, and his lyrics resonate in their heartfelt simplicity. It's perfectly understandable that he lists his influences as George Jones, Hank Williams, and John Lennon (if Lennon seems like a strange addition to this trio, give his tune "Mother" a listen sometime, if you want to hear a simple lyric thrown into a blast furnace of emotion).
Many of Menard's compositions here appear deceptively simple and "connect" in their direct approach to life, love, and loss. "Make Me a Train" is a plaintive plea for escape from troubles, reminiscent of the Hank Williams song ""I Heard the Lonesome Whistle Blow." "Trustin' Love" has a wary traveler learning what it means to open up and put it all on the line for someone. Matt Weber adds some nice pedal steel work here. As if in response to this number, Jennifer Barron Fishman's next track "Open To The Future" reveals the liberating feeling that can be found in relying on someone. "Worried Old World" is a folk anthem exploring the dangers of environmental exploitation ("There's a hole the size of Kansas floatin' in the sky"). Cathie Van Wert contributes a nice fiddle break here, and "Cryin' Is Easy" has a refrain that any barfly could love:
"But cryin is easy,
It's the livin' that's hard.
With no one forgivin'
As things just fall apart"
It's a cry-in-your-beer self-indictment that comes from just north of Jones country.
All band members have had various musical incarnations, as well as other incarnations: Jennifer Barron Fishman owns a yoga/massage studio (Sweet Pea's Studio) and Lori Polzak, who adds some sweet vocals to these tracks, was a former madrigal singer. Violinist/fiddle player Cathie Van Wert manages her own graphic design firm, DoubleTake Design, and Menard owns a commercial painting firm called Regal Painting. Fallen Angels came together in 1997 and have played at clubs and festivals all over the Midwest.
For booking information, call 773-576-3507.
Check out the artist's website:
1. Make Me A Train
2. Trustin' Love
3. Open To The Future
4. Worried Old World
5. Cryin' Is Easy
7. Misty Mountain Morning
8. In Between
9. I Will Miss You