Joe Fahey – Tote Bag – Review

joefahey200Joe Fahey

Tote Bag (Rough Fish)
By Craig Regala

Joe Fahey‘s the kinda fella I know. Involved in the guitar rockin’ side of “new wave” that culminated in guys with old Stones, Dylan, and Kinks records hanging out at Replacements shows on Wednesday quarter beer nights in ’85 talking about “when the Clash were good.” Ten years later, it was the same club, same night, but with dollar drafts (22 oz. though) and a couple of the guys had acoustic guitars and wives. Being the Midwest, those guys kept going writing a roots-saturated singer/songwriter thing tagged “Americana.” Since it was steeped in the one-man/one-melody tradition going back to some guy with a lute and a guy selling his soul down by the tracks, it’s stuck around and yielded the plain spoken “this is life” reality that lay right there in the crib gurgling, smiling, and shitting its diaper.

Welcome to reality. You don’t give up, you don’t give in, you do what you have to and you write about it. Here comes Joe. Strumming and chiming, working snatches of melody and lightly held feedback into tunes that drop into bridges that add a bit of oomph to the folky ker chugga chugga that pulls the music out of rootsy stuff I was alluding to above, even as it hits the same emotional chord. The fella has a good grip on convention without bowing to tradition. If you can spin Lou Reed, James McMurtry, The mid-period Kinks, solo Paul Westerberg, Willie Nelson, Towns Van Zant, or heck, Robin Hitchcock, you can roll this one.