I have a very closely guarded secret. I love Pop music. I know!
You would think that I, in my anti-major label fury, would toss
the genre aside because isn't it true that the major labels are
the source of everything Pop? I mean really Pop?
Didn't the major labels patent the idea and the sound? Sure
seems like they did. For decades, the Pop we've heard on TV and
in the movies and on the radio (when it mattered) was mostly
manufactured, packaged and owned by
the people who controlled what seemed like everything
when it came to music. Who? You got it. The major labels. Even
punk and rap. They let the little guys duke it out until it
became lucrative enough and took those over, too.
Well, it's time
for payback and there is no artist out there who is a better
example than Shelly
Her new album, Hush (The Secrets Project),
is everything that Hollywood used to be (and when it comes to
Pop, Hollywood still cranks out more than anyone). It has
melody, harmonies, that big orchestral sound when needed, the
production, the arrangements--- just about everything you need
to benchmark Fraley Pop. I'm surprised Hollywood has not slid
right in there and bought her, lock stock and barrel. That's
the way it happens these days. They buy.
It's the pyramid tipped upside down, except that in this case,
the bottom is the big winner. They have the deep pockets. They
have the corporate funding. They are still the dream. I have no
labels are the devil. They take and use and when it is no
longer financially viable, they spit out, whether they are
right or not. Everything about them makes me shudder. They are
are the dream, though, and as much as it pains me to say it,
they should be lining up at Ms. Fraley's door. She has created
and released a gem of an album which, had it been released as
early as the Nineties, would have had a good shot at success.
Nowadays, I'm not so sure. Even Fraley herself admits that it
is just damn hard to get people to listen. Too many musicians?
Not enough time? What is wrong with us?
music is there. Fraley (and in one case, co-producer/sideman
has written ten outstanding Pop tunes, some incorporating Brill
Building sensibilities, some more modern, some perfect for
teenybopperdom, but all formed around the core of melody,
harmony and arrangement--- the trifecta of good Pop (okay,
quadrifecta, if you include production). She not only wrote
them, she presents them with a voice and sensitivity you rarely
hear these days.
do you want, Pop fans? Fraley gives you a string of songs to
titillate the old Pop palate--- Darlin',
it's beat and arrangement straight out of the late Fifties and
early Sixties, right down to the bop-bop-bops in the
Don't Wanna Be Alone,
borrowing from that period and early Carolyn
almost uncanny which, I guess, would make it canny, how
Arends-like she is here--- if you have not heard Arends, I
heartily recommend her first two albums, I
Can Hear You and
available from Carolyn at her
a perfect combination of Brill Building and early Dala
challenged youth; and the incredibly anthemic rock ballad Won't
the crescendo on the bridge a thing of beauty. No pounding
rock, no soaring lead guitars--- nothing that will distract you
from the melodies and harmonies and arrangements which make
this album special.
Fraley deserve to make it? Absolutely, but I don't want her
going the major label route. And I don't want Pop fans going
that route, either. I want Fraley to stay just the way she is,
writing and performing songs she obviously feels the need to
write and sing, and I want Pop fans out there tracking her down
and sharing her music with other fans of Pop. In an ideal
world, that's the way it would happen. Hell, it could
I will not hold it against Fraley if and when she signs that
major label deal. If there is one thing I know about today's
music world, it's “gotta eat”. I've heard it
thousands of times from thousands of mouths and I get it. I
just don't like it.
though. I like her a lot. Someone who writes music this good
and performs it this well deserves all the good we can send her
way. Send cash. Maybe she'll send you back music. It's a hell
of a deal. In this case, a hell