Michael Fracasso

Back to Oklahoma – 2001 (India)

Reviewed by Brian Baker

CDs by Michael Fracasso

Michael Fracasso plays world music, but not in the eclectic international definition of the phrase. Born to Italian immigrants in Ohio, Fracasso cut his musical teeth in the Greenwich Village folk scene of the late '70s, holding his own with the likes of Suzanne Vega, Steve Forbert and The Roches. After a full decade of developing his songwriting chops and intimate style, he relocated to Austin, TX, where he found any number of kindred spirits and finally released his first album, "Love & Trust," in 1993.

Nearly 10 years after that auspicious event, Fracasso has only just gotten around to releasing his fourth album, this live marvel. Accompanied only by guitarist Charlie Sexton (who was also a primary contributor to Fracasso's 1998 gem, "World in a Drop of Water"), Fracasso runs through an emotional set of his own powerful songs (the poignant "1950s" and "Gypsy Moth") and a handful of well-rendered covers ("John Hardy," "Winin' Boy Blues"). Oddly enough, there's nothing here from "Drop of Water," just a few nuggets from '95's "When I Lived in the Wild" and some longstanding favorites from "Love & Trust."

Fracasso's style is well suited to the sparse two-guitar presentation, and he and Sexton fill the space with more than just music. If you listen real hard, you can hear the audience's rapt attention as loudly as Fracasso's incredible songs. (Box 3959, Austin, TX 78764)