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Tony Furtado
Thirteen

Review By Steven Stone
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  The moniker "hardest working man in show-business" has been appropriated so many times that it has become a cliché'. Yet it seems as if Tony Furtado is still campaigning for the title. On his eleventh solo release Furtado once more demonstrates that he is not only a jack-of-all trades, but their master as well.

Ten of the thirteen songs on Thirteen are Furtado originals. The three covers are each signature tunes from their respective authors: Pete Townsend's "Won't Get Fooled Again," John Fogerty's "Fortunate Son," and Elton John's "Take Me to the Pilot." In less creative hands these tunes would be merely covers, but Furtado manages to bring something special to his renditions that makes them far more than that. Joined by a first-tier back-up band consisting of Sean Slade and Jim Dickinson on keyboards, Dusty Wakeman on bass, and Winston Watson on drums, Furtado admits that, "At first I was worried that it might be a clash of titans." But the final results indicate that the band members meshed beautifully. The overall sound is much more Westcoast pop-rock than Furtado's earlier releases, with more electric atmosphere and less of a raw acoustic sound. But rather than merely sounding slicker, this aural approach serves to enhance the music's impact. On Pete Towsend's "Won't Get Fooled Again" the orchestration reminds me of the Townsend solo album Empty Glass with the combination of acoustic guitar with electric slide and minimal drum kit featuring a light snare. Furtado's layered vocals also remind me of early Eagles or Crosby Stills and Nash, soft without being effeminate. On his original tunes, such as the title tune "Thirteen," Furtado returns to his more signature driving rustic folk style, featuring his strong fingerpicking and slide work.

Recorded in Tucson at Wavelab Studios using a two-inch 16-track analog recorder, the sound on Thirteen is a sonic throwback to the late 80's. The analog recorder sound is softer and warmer than its digital counterparts, imbuing even the hardest rocking numbers with a less aggressive edge. Engineered and produced by Craig Schumacher who has also worked with Calexico, Case, and Iron & Wine Thirteen proves that retro recording techniques have their place in contemporary music.

Having been a Tony Furtado fan since I first heard him live at The Boulder Theater in the early 1990's I can assure you that Thirteen delivers more of what makes Tony Furtado special. If you haven't yet discovered him, Thirteen will be a lucky musical experience.

 

 

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