Scheduled for release this coming Friday (April 1st), Marco Benevento’s new record imagines The Life of Fred Short, a “local shaman” and all around Bacchus of the Catskills after whom Benevento named his studio. Between the album’s title and the studio’s name, it is clear that Short is an inspiring figure for the acclaimed keyboardist.
Short is a mythical figure. For Benevento he is an “itinerant musical shaman; an ominous messenger of looming environmental disaster; the namesake of the street [Benevento] lives on (and the recording studio [Benevento] built there) in upstate New York; and, ultimately, the inspiration for his sixth solo album.” Additionally known for the “musical bacchanals” he hosted on the property where Benevento now lives, Short embodies the figure of Bacchus in an inspirational and creative sense as well. Bacchus is well known as the Roman god of wine and revelry, but the openness and creativity that result from those also fall into his realm.
As Benevento puts it, “One winter evening, I was finally home from the road with a night to myself in the studio, which I named after Fred…The conditions were perfect that night, and I improvised all the songs that make up Side B of the album. It all came out in an hour and a half of playing.” These songs, along with 4 other tracks, would go on to become The Story of Fred Short.
The record sees Benevento continuing to move in new directions. His 2014 release, Swift, featured the musician singing on his own album for the first time, and Fred Short expands on that. Benevento has begun to use his voice as an instrument in its own right. The all-too-short “III Walking With Tyrone,” for example, features an interlude where Benevento’s whistling carries the melody.
Other standout tracks include the album’s first two singles, “Dropkick” and “In the Afternoon Tomorrow,” and “Heavy Metal Floating Upstream.”
Just about every track on Fred Short plays up its rhythm section, making for a danceable indie rock record. Listeners are encouraged to take a little inspiration from Fred Short and embrace their Bacchanalian side, if only for the album’s 34-minute run time.
Marco Benevento’s The Story of Fred Short comes out Friday April 1st on the artist’s own label, Royal Potato Family. The record is available for preorder on Amazon, iTunes, and Royal Potato Family’s online store.