The glorious beaches of Jeju might not be the first place you would expect to find a perfect piece of Americana-tinged indie-folk but Fancy Man are here to gently brush off that perception. Their self-titled album is compact at 6 songs but never misses a beat in terms of quality.
Fancy Man’s frontman and lead songwriter Tim Cushing has been producing music under various monikers for years. With Fancy Man he seems to have gotten into the swing of things. Between last year’s Christmas album and this new collection, FM have been making waves with their unique alternative-folk sound.
Opening track, That Bandit in the Hills, is a brilliantly fun bluegrass number. The song is boosted by it’s hootin’ tootin’ piano sound, it’s country-style fiddlin’ and clever lyrics. It’s kept grounded by the sparse inclusion of a synthesizer, which suits the track’s style surprisingly well. But the real star of this track is Tim Cushing’s perfectly matched vocal style. His doo-doo-doo could have been performed by The Soggy Bottom Boys and is an obvious nod to his bluegrass musical roots.
His voice is actually very versatile, moving effortlessly from a country wail to a more reserved alt-folk style which he maintains for the rest album such as on the beautifully executed album standout Dreams. His unique singing style mix well with his strong Northeastern US accent to make his vocals somewhere between Neil Young and Jeffery Lewis.
With the exception of it’s central theme of travelling, which reoccurs throughout, the first track doesn’t have much in common with the rest of the album. Fancy Man is so interesting because while there is a strong sense of open-road freedom, the songs are largely introspective and personal.
Tim Cushing considers his words to be one of his strangest suits so, unsurprisingly, the lyrics here are great across the board. Melancholy (though occasionally humorous) expressions of loneliness and ennui form the backbone of his poetic lines. This is especially true of the country-tinged track So I Faced It. Here, Tim Croon’s “there are three ways to the top of the hill, you can kill, you can wait, you can work real hard to get there”.
At six tracks the only fault you can find with this album is that there isn’t enough of it. Then again, that was probably the point; beautiful and varied songs that end with the listener excited for what Fancy Man does next.
For fans of Jeffery Lewis, Avi Buffalo, Conor Oburst, Wilco, Bob Dylan, The National, Dawes, Blind Pilot, Willy Mason.
By Jamie Finn (@jamiefinn2209)
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