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Sawdust

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Album Review

On his second nationally distributed album, genuine cattle-punching cowboy Todd Fritsch has upped the level of polish just a bit, and 2007's Sawdust sounds decidedly more radio-ready than his self-titled 2005 release, which earned him some chart action for the song "Small Town Radio." But Fritsch's regular-guy personality shines through the slick spots on Sawdust, and along with his strong, easygoing vocal style, it's his greatest asset. Fritsch sounds right at home singing about pretty girls, broken hearts, honky tonkin', and what he does and doesn't like in country music, and he's clearly having a ball with the Bob Wills-style swing of "Five Mornings Down," the twangy two-step of "All That's Left Is You," and the proud celebration of his roots in "Texas Talking." On the other hand, the rock-oriented "If You Don't Like Country (Time to Leave)" (ironic title, that) doesn't fit him nearly as well (even if he did co-write it), and "The Rock," in which he sings from the point of view of a church, is a conceit that hardly anyone could bring off. But while Sawdust sometimes aims for the arenas, it works best when it generates a small-scale barroom ambience, and thankfully Fritsch and his musicians hit that target most of the time; the arrangements generate a natural honky tonk mood when they're on the beam, and even in its weaker moments Sawdust boasts a good-hearted sincerity that sets it apart from most of the guys with hats on country radio these days.

Biography

Genre: Country

Years Active: '00s

Plenty of country singers act like they're cowboys, but Todd Fritsch doesn't have to pretend — when he's not on the road or in the studio, Fritsch helps run his family's Texas cattle ranch, and he helps raise up to 40,000 head of cattle each year when not busy performing his brand of traditional honky tonk music. Fritsch was born in 1981 in Willow Springs, a rural community west of Houston; at the age of 14 he became interested in music, and started singing in local talent competitions with...
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Sawdust, Todd Fritsch
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