Frye Family Band
Oubache Music (release date: 2020)
By Bob Marovich
Family bands in Christian music are ubiquitous and have been since the beginning of the genre. Think of the Rambos, the Gaithers, the Goodmans, the Whites, the Crabbs, and on and on.
Another is the Frye Family Band. The group is a fresh-faced ensemble hailing from New Corydon, Indiana, a rural community located on the banks of the Wabash River and just west of the Ohio state line. Their new release, Things Unseen, is a fine sampler of their multi-instrumental skills, earnest lyrics, and harmonies that evoke contemporary southern gospel troupes, but with arrangements closer to We Are Messengers.
The album’s top track is the title track. The ballad’s message, culled from 2 Corinthians 4:18, is about one’s faith walk. The song is buoyed by a music box-like melody, whispered vocals, and Celtic-sounding female harmonies.
Next to “Things Unseen” in terms of ear-catching quality is “Good News.” Like the former, it is a heartwarming melodic ballad, but this time the focus is on encouragement for those whose “backs are against the wall” and have “prayed a thousand prayers” to keep on walking through the wilderness. No one, they sing, is ever forgotten.
“Full Moon,” an ode to the presence of God, which is brightest in the metaphorical night, has a brisk, contemporary female country group vibe, complete with riffs from mandolin (Tom Frye or Michael Farren), and from Maggie Frye Neal’s dulcimer. The radio-friendly “Better Things” is an optimistic, breezy, fun piece with a festival rock vibe and purring organ.
A most interesting addition is the group’s cover of Harry Chapin’s 1974 “Cats in the Cradle.” I remember when Chapin’s song first came on the air, disk jockeys would ask listeners to pay attention to the lyrics. The message of the song is as vital today, and as heartbreaking, as it was back then.
The album’s bonus track is from the group’s new DVD, Frye Family Band in Concert. Opening with swatches of harmonica, “Jesus is Crazy” is a talking blues about how Jesus was considered irrational by some of his contemporaries, even by doubting disciples (two fishes and five loaves of bread, what?!), but also how he is “crazy about you.”
Michael Farren’s production is crisp and warm. Clocking in at just under thirty minutes in length, Things Unseen is one of those CDs that grows on you with repeated listening. Here’s hoping the group has a full-length album in mind for release in the not-too-distant future.
Four of Five Stars
Picks: “Things Unseen,” “Good News”