Vic Frierson - Tho’back (2010)

Vic Frierson
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Vic Frierson has the kind of ‘measurables' normally associated with NBA power forwards and NFL defensive ends. He's 6' 8'' and weighs about 290 pounds. Soul music fans have seen their share of super sized men with smooth as butter and passionate as preacher vocals - Otis Redding, Luther and David Peaston from previous generations and Marcell Russell and the Duffie twins from this current era of vocalists. On the new album Tho'back, Frierson proves that he measures up in another way. This big man can write and this big man can sang.

Vic Frierson has the kind of ‘measurables' normally associated with NBA power forwards and NFL defensive ends. He's 6' 8'' and weighs about 290 pounds. Soul music fans have seen their share of super sized men with smooth as butter and passionate as preacher vocals - Otis Redding, Luther and David Peaston from previous generations and Marcell Russell and the Duffie twins from this current era of vocalists. On the new album Tho'back, Frierson proves that he measures up in another way. This big man can write and this big man can sang.

There is no dead space on this 12 track record, and after reading the artist statement Frierson included in the liner notes, it's clear that the he envisioned himself creating a work that could be mentioned as a great work of modern soul. Frierson covers a lot of ground on Tho'back. He proves that he is equally adept at singing a duet and an old-school gospel classic. And though the record is called Tho'back, Frierson shows he can easily handle modern R&B just as well (such as on the opening track "You Told Me That").

Frierson proves to be a great story teller on the tune "Everybody Knows But Me," a song that tells a story of a man who can't seem to embrace his future with a fine new woman because he can't stop thinking about his old flame. The next song, "Ain't No Way," serves as the perfect follow up. On this bluesy torch ballad, Frierson lets the woman know that he is definitely NOT of two minds about his desire to keep her in his life. Like most songs of this type, "Ain't No Way" works because it can be read both as a plea and a demand.

Frierson wears his prophet and preacher hats on the next two tracks. On the first, "I Can Feel It," Frierson takes a step back to observe the many troubles and hopes that exist in this world and then pens a funky work of social commentary. The second, "Sister's Song," is a percussion driven discussion in which a man implores a woman to maintain hope in a bleak world.

Frierson ends the album strong with a stirring version of "His Eye Is On the Sparrow." Accompanied only by piano, the song displays the depth, range and spirituality of Frierson's voice. He also provides listeners with the treat by singing the second verse of this hymn. This song of gets performed at funerals, and by including it here Frierson proves that "His Eye Is On the Sparrow" can also speak to us when we are not grieving. He then ends the record with an alternate version of the ballad "Who Are They To Say" (Frierson included a solo version of the song earlier on the album). However, his duet with guiltypleasures' Mycah Chevalier absolutely soars. Their voices are a perfect match, and they seem to have a chemistry that elevates this song from sweet-but-pedestrian to that level occupied by some of the best soul duets.

Back in the day, a vocalist had to be able to handle genres ranging from the blues to show tunes and from gospel to country and western. That was necessary because a singer who wanted to work had to be able to work for everybody. Frierson displays that kind of dexterity on this record. Tho'back is an aptly named album because it showcases an artist who, like the greatest of artists, has mastered every level of soul singing. Highly Recommended.

By Howard Dukes

 
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