Tom FreundTom Freund
Album: Two Moons
Label: Surf Road
Tracks: 11

One of the quintessential California singer/songwriters, Tom's had a long and fruitful solo career since the late-90s, with his fourth album Collapsible Plans (2009) being the first to make its way onto my CD player. Over the past five years, he's continued to release quality product, but it's not always been easy to guess which way his writing's going to jump. For Two Moons, he seems to have been trending towards the confident, contemplative yet sharply-observed commentaries that one might associate with Randy Newman (the opening number Angel Eyes being a case in point).

Tom's sanguine acceptance of this crazy world melds with his defiant personal stance to voice his credo Lemme Be Who I Wanna Be, but it's on the more reflective songs like Heavy Balloon and the faux-nostalgic Happy Days Lunch Box that Tom arguably comes most into his own. The disc's acoustic closer Sugar Pie looks back with typical hindsight at a love affair now ended, providing a kind of counterweight to the chummy vaudeville-style uke-driven Next Time Around.

Elsewhere, you might say Tom's writing is cool in the Tom Petty sense, each song dripping with hooks to die for and yet plenty of thought-provoking content beneath the gloss. But Tom's elusive identity as the musical chameleon enables him to adopt a variety of guises from music's hall of fame, from the considered 70s Quo-Zepp-riffing rock of Grooves Out Of My Heart to the Paul Simon-like ruminations of Same Old Shit Different Day. And with expert backing from the likes of Zac Baird, Michael Jerome and David Immergluck gracing most of the tracks on this new offering, and good arrangements, well recorded and played, Tom really can't go wrong.

David Kidman