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Michael Fracasso

Here Come the Savages – 2016 (Blue Door)

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

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CDs by Michael Fracasso

Michael Fracasso's career encompasses nine albums and collaborations with some of the best artists in the business. Over the years, he's worked with such luminaries as Patty Griffin, Charlie Sexton and Lucinda Williams and won critical kudos in the process. Sadly - and surprisingly - he's still not known beyond a small circle of admirers, a fact that's not only somewhat astonishing, but also frustratingly inexplicable considering the high level of quality control he maintains on each of his efforts.

One would hope "Here Come the Savages" could change all that, and indeed, it offers a real chance to do so. Fracasso opts to coat the album with a full measure of sensual suggestion, a sound that's both mellow and ingratiating, be it the gentle glide of "Say," "Little Scar" and "Daisy" or the burnished stroke of "Open" and "Boy in a Bubble." In fact, there's not a single song here that offers anything more than a hint of agitation, ensuring a lush cushion throughout. He further affirms that tack by incorporating half a dozen covers that help maintain that engaging ambiance - The Beach Boys' "Caroline No," The Kinks' "Better Things" and The Rascals' "How Can I Be Sure," among them. Fracasso wisely chooses not to tamper with the templates, while still keeping the sound compatible regardless of the writing credits involved.

It's a credit to Fracasso's compositional skills that he writes songs of his own that fit in so fittingly with the above-mentioned classics. Then again, it's obvious he possesses the same mindset. The allure and appeal of great material never changes, and Fracasso's ability to realize that - both in his own material and in the work of others - gives reason for recognition. That's one reason why "Here Come the Savages" is so consistently compelling.