Derek Fawcett – Feel Better (2014)

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Derek Fawcett has spent eleven years and five albums as the djembe player/vocalist in the Chicago roots-rock band Down The Line. But Fawcett’s vast capacity as a singer and songwriter dictated he was not meant to blend in with others for only a sliver of the spotlight forever. He finally steps forward to the world when his debut album Feel Better is set loose on October 7, 2014.

You won’t hear an African hand drum on Feel Better as Fawcett mans a piano for this adventure, but he is operating a world full of singer/songwriters who attempt to plumb the depths of emotions and make it seem easy, and most of them fail. Not Fawcett; he succeeds, and succeeds big. What might be lost in some of the exuberance of his old band is gained several fold in the consolation, emotional gravitas, and variable mood of this music.

“Feel Better,” the song that this album is named after, isn’t some sunny pop ditty its title might suggest, it’s a dark-hued simple folk tune about a friend whose become “an empty shell.” “I wish you’d put the bottle down,” he pleads briefly in a sweet falsetto, “because it won’t make you feel better, no it won’t make you feel better.” Yes, he has a knack to save the punch of a seemingly meek song for the chorus, whether its impact is uplifting or, in this case, meant to deliver a sting.

That’s why while he cites Billy Joel, Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen as influences, there’s a some U2 anthemic hooks present, too. That’s most apparent on the open road chant “Never Here,” where the refrain bursts open like stepping out into the blinding sun. But if Petty is more your cup of tea, well, “Not My Call To Make” could have been a comfortable addition to any Heartbreakers album. “Nothing Left To Say,” with Fawcett alone with his piano for most of the song, calls to mind Joel’s early gem “She’s Got A Way.”

“Kinda Like A Love Song I Guess,” is a dead-on title for a ballad, and that’s just what this is, one where the lyrics come together with uncanny casualness. Same goes for “Romeo and Juliet,” his command of storytelling approaching the level of the great John Hiatt.

Feel Better even feels like it’s better than Hiatt’s own 2014 offering Terms Of My Surrender, and that old vet has been on a roll lately. But there’s always room for more composers of Hiatt’s ilk because those whose songs possess the depth, maturity and easily engaging quality found on Fawcett’s songs are in such short supply these days.

Visit Derek Fawcett’s website for more info.

Here’s where you can catch Derek live in the coming weeks:

Oct 09 The Basement Nashville, TN
Oct 10 Fox 2 News Morning Show St Louis, MO
Oct 11 Cicero’s St Louis, MO
Oct 12 Longbranch Saloon Knoxville, TN
Oct 16 Cameron House Toronto, Canada
Oct 17 Dominion House Windsor, Canada
Oct 18 Front Porch Valparaiso, IN
Oct 19 Hideout Chicago, IL
Oct 23 True Coffee Fitchburg, WI
Oct 24 Aster Cafe Minneapolis, MN
Oct 26 FEEL BETTER: Up Close & Personal Chicago, IL
Nov 05 Johnny D’s Uptown Restaurant & Music Club Somerville, MA
Nov 06 Tree House Lounge Washington, DC
Nov 07 WRRW-Revolutionary Radio 102.5 FM Virginia Beach, VA
Nov 08 Rockwood Music Hall Stage 3 New York, NY
Nov 14 Pike Room Pontiac, MI
Nov 16 Mayne Stage Chicago, IL
Nov 23 Shakespeare’s Pub Kalamazoo, MI

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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