Brooklyn songwriter John Fatum’s self-titled album weaves a legacy of story and sound. Recorded on an 8-track reel-to-reel tape machine in New York’s East Village, his second full-length album carries timelessness amplified by Dala Records’ analog process which captures the imperfection and beauty of live performance with shades of Rolling Stones’ Beggar’s Banquet and The Band’s Music From Big Pink. Trained as a jazz percussionist at Rochester’s Eastman School of Music, 26-year-old John Fatum effortlessly blends the styles of music he grew up listening to in Chicago's north side. Influenced by country blues, gospel, Americana, jazz, and Gulf Coast sounds, John takes on the characters and mythology of those who became before him.
On The Little Pie Blues, Fatum embodies the traveling bluesman, ready to take your money, happy to steal your daughter on this slow-burning track. The rolling blues number features a trumpet solo from producer and Charles Bradley Extraordinaire Billy Aukstik, who masterminded the release. Even the TASCAM 388 tape machine becomes an instrument, mic’d up as a percussive surface. During recording, Fatum raided a cutlery drawer searching for perfect utensil to rap on the tape machine. It turned out to be a butter knife which blends comfortably with Aukstik’s Maestro Rhythm King and Fatum’s thigh slaps. “There’s a nebulous aspect to rhythm that you can’t write or put down. It’s not definable. You couldn’t create unless a human was playing it,” says Fatum. “I really believe that life is a rhythm, that we’re all on some trajectory through time. Music provides us that pulse that tracks us through life. And it’s a steadying thing, instead of free fall.”
Supported by friends and New York folk scene veterans like Prairie Home Companion’s Sarah Jarosz and Scottish musician Hannah Read, Fatum’s release takes on a haunting and cinematic tone on tracks like Ride On Nebraska. Written while crossing state lines with touring act The Rad Trads, Nebraska captures the awe and mystery of visiting new corners of the American experience. Jarosz, Read, and Rad Trads guitarist Mike Harlen lend their musical abilities on the cathartic folk rock track, Good Luck Unto Ya about Fatum’s experiences being forced to part ways with friends along his path. After recording most of the tracks a day before, Fatum offered Jarosz his pawn shop mandolin and asked if she wanted to jam on the track. Together the crew creates the kind of magic that can only occur between talented, tight-knit friends reaching epic back porch jam proportions.
The album is punctuated by the belligerent rock track I’ve Got Two Hands (Two Bottles of Champagne) which features a Springsteen-esque saxophone solo by Rad Trad and Dala Records labelmate Patrick Sargent. “I always feel that way with my band mates, we’re on this collective journey,” says Fatum. “Since we don’t have management, it’s us swimming in the world together. “
The Little Pie Blues
Good Luck Unto Ya
Ride On Nebraska
Try As You Might Side B:
If We Call This Home
Let’s Go Walking in the Moonlight
Your Only Son
I’ve Got Two Hands (And Two Bottles of Champagne)