Artist: Donnie Fritts
Label: Single Lock Records
Release Date: 10/09/2015
One of the seminal figures responsible for making Muscle Shoals the recording capitol of the American South in the ’60s and ’70s, Donnie Fritts established himself as an erstwhile songwriter and session musician of considerable repute. Although he played an essential role in recordings by Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Dan Penn, Spooner Oldham, Waylon Jennings, Tony Joe White and Delbert McClinton, Fritts’ individual output is limited to a mere four albums scattered across four decades. His last solo effort, One Foot In The Groove, was released eight years ago, an indication of his relatively sparse output.
Consequently, the appearance of Oh My Goodness becomes a belated delight, marking for ample reason to rejoice. Happily, the wait was worth it, given the fact that Fritts still possesses the savvy and skills that made him so iconic to begin with. Singing in a scratchy vocal that vividly suggests Randy Newman croaking his way through the John Prine songbook, the songs are affecting, touching and full of the sort of pathos that suggests they might have been woven through personal experience. The album’s parched prelude, “Erroll Flynn,” suggests the tone, while the song that follows, “If It’s Really Gotta Be This Way,” confirms the mournful circumstance. “Memphis Women and Chicken” and “Tuscaloosa 1962” find Fritts getting into his groove, his back porch narrative conveying an unmistakable sense of Southern delight. Still, it’s the plaintive delivery that marks the majority of these songs — “The Oldest Baby in the World,” “Them Old Love Songs,” “Lay It Down” and a particularly poignant “God Bless Your Foolish Heart”– that reflects the tender heart of a wizened master and, in turn, melts the hearts of those that have opportunity to hear it.
Oh My Goodness indeed; what a superb set of songs. Oh my goodness, Donnie. Next time, please don’t stay away so long.