Jason Weinheimer’s Little Rock-based Fellowship of Sound studio has heard its share of stellar modern Americana records. Everyone from John Moreland and Hayes Carll to Shinyribs and John Fullbright have recorded there. Add Faded, Weinheimer’s own record, to that list of impressive Americana albums.
Recording under the moniker The Libras, as he’s done in the past and bringing in a cast of session musicians, this quarantine-born album was a happy accident according to Weinheimer. It’s also instantly infectious, hooking the listener just one song in. The opening, title track, sounds like a mix between Wilco and Graham Parsons– if they had access to a solid horn section. The album, coming in at 10 tracks, is remarkably compact – there is no fat to be trimmed from the record and each song builds nicely on the one before it. That being said, there are a few standout tracks that catch you on the first listen like “Can’t Lose Everything,” with its rolling piano and horns and “Quiet Part Loud” with strong Tom Petty vibes. The Libras slip in and out of genres, from Americana and classic rock/pop to soul (the horns on “We Carry On” would make Otis Redding’s band beam), all while coming off remarkably focused. There is also an inspired cover of Dire Straits’ “So Far Away,” with Ambrosia Parsley singing back up, that manages to outshine the original.
Weinheimer, based in Little Rock, never really intended to record a whole album when he started trading tacks back and forth with fellow musicians, all suddenly out of work because of the pandemic. The exercise was more of a way to pass the time and entertain themselves. But the result, 10 remarkably satisfying songs, will likely serve as a benchmark for all of his future records.
The crew of friends he was able to enlist for this effort – many who have played on the records he has produced and engineered in the past – is impressive to say the least; Steve Berlin (Los Lobos), Paul Griffith (John Prine, Amanda Shires), Al Gamble (St. Paul and the Broken Bones), Paddy Ryan (John Fullbright, Parker Milsap), Jesse Aycock (Hard Working Americans, Elizabeth Cook), Arnold Kim (Yellow Hope Project), Ambrosia Parsley (Shivaree), Chris Michaels, Charles Wyrick, Dylan Turner, Shawn Stroope, Mark Franklin (Greg Allman, Cyndi Lauper), and Kirk Smothers (Bo Keys, Buddy Guy).