Fred Gillen Jr. | Silence of the Night

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Silence of the Night

by Fred Gillen Jr.

Silence Of The Night, while being truly an "album" and not a collection of singles, dips a big, colorful bucket into the wellspring of American music, touching on folk, Americana, rock, roots, and even funk.
Genre: Rock: Folk Rock
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Morphine Angel
3:59 $0.99
2. Silence of the Night
4:16 $0.99
3. Vanity
3:00 $0.99
4. Find a Rodeo
3:59 $0.99
5. Halloween Day At the V.A.
4:43 $0.99
6. This Old Car
4:08 $0.99
7. This Town Is Our Song
3:08 $0.99
8. Hildegard
1:59 $0.99
9. Black Butterflies
3:44 $0.99
10. Dinosaur Bones On the Side of the Road
2:23 $0.99
11. Angel
3:44 $0.99
12. Shotgun
2:45 $0.99
13. Walking That Line
2:52 $0.99
14. Only Sky
3:41 $0.99
15. Lean Into Me
2:55 $0.99
16. Silence
0:30 album only
17. Life Is Too Short to Be So Serious
4:22 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Fred Gillen Jr. Makes Yet Another Good Record
by delarue

"It’s hard to believe that Fred Gillen Jr. has been making albums for almost 20 years now. His latest, Silence of the Night is one of his best, and arguably his most tuneful, a mix of acerbically lyrical, Americana-flavored janglerock and grittier electric songs that stand up alongside Steve Earle’s louder stuff. In a style of music that’s all too often drenched in obviousness and cliche, Gillen doesn’t go there: he has a bloodhound’s nose for a catchy hook, he tells a good story and he’s never sung better than he does here. There isn’t a hint of fakeness, or affectation in his casual, intimate vocals, or for that matter in his songwriting either. Although there isn’t as much of an overtly political stance to these songs as in his past work – during the Bush regime, Gillen was one of the most insightfully enraged voices of reason around – his songs still have a penetrating social consciousness. As someone who long ago adopted Woody Guthrie’s “this guitar kills fascists” for his six-string, Gillen keeps a close eye on the world outside and its most telling details. All seventeen tracks on the album are streaming at his Bandcamp site.

The opening cut, Morphine Angel offers a somber elegy for an addict, “blinded by your own sun’s dying light” – it wouldn’t be out of place in the BoDeans catalog. Later on, he revisits that theme – it’s a familiar one in his repertoire – with a more broad appraisal of the price of addiction in a dead-end town. The album’s surprisingly bouncy title cut looks at love as “a dockside shanty, lit by Christmas lights, painted like a carnival against the endless silence of the night.” Gillen follows that with Vanity and its casual country-rock sway, a vivid cautionary tale (and good advice) for these Orwellian times.

Find a Rodeo, a country ballad, laments the loss of good songs on the radio, among other things. One of the album’s strongest tracks, the Springsteen-ish Halloween Day at the VA leaves a chilling trail of images, a litany of damage and lost hope, among them the Afghan war vet who returns home too messed up to restart his old Kiss cover band. The growling, bluesy, metaphorically-charged Black Butterflies goes back to roaring Americana rock, something akin to Will Scott relocated to the Hudson Valley.

Shotgun contrasts a catchy janglerock tune with a brooding lyric that examines the consequences of getting married too soon, followed by the powerful Walking That Line, an abortion chronicle that makes a worthy sequel to Graham Parker’s You Can’t Be Too Strong. Only Sky ponders how possible it is to make a genuine escape, followed by the nonchalant come-on ballad Lean on Me.

A couple of tracks veer toward the sentimental, but they’re not throwaways. This Old Car, complete with fuzzy dice and air freshener, makes an apt flipside to Everclear’s Thousand Dollar Car. Sappy as the lyrics are, This Town Is Our Song has an irresistibly tasty acoustic guitar hook. There’s also Dinosaur Bones, a creepy, apocalyptic voice-and-drums number as well as a tantalizingly brief, bristling twangrock instrumental and an attempt to end the album on a lighthearted note. It’s another solid chapter in the career of a songwriter who’s not unknown – his recent collaborations with Pete Seeger have received well-deserved praise – but whose work would enrich the lives of a wider audience than it probably has. Fans of John Prine, Steve Earle, Townes Van Zandt and the rest of the Americana songwriting pantheon ought to get to know him." -New York Music Daily 1/6/13

"Silence Of The Night, Gillen’s latest release, is a thoughtfully assembled “album” which features the artist's first spoken-word piece on record in over ten years, alongside his first instrumental in sixteen years! The new record seamlessly joins American music, weaving the sounds of folk, Americana, rock and classic funk. This album includes new versions of two Gillen songs Shotgun and This Town Is Our Song (a duet with Carolann Solebello,) as well as eleven debut songs. With cameos by a number of old friends, incuding Eric Puente, Sarah Banks, Brooke Campbell, Susan Kane, Catherine Miles, Julie Corbalis, Jim Keyes, and Audi Wilken, this album speaks to Gillen’s genuine collaborative nature.
Gillen’s works is honest and pure, delivering unglamorous but compelling tales of the marginalized and forgotten. Intimate and universal, his songs tell the stories of the internal and external struggles that we all experience.
Says Brita Brundage from Westchester Weekly of Gillen’s songs, "sweet and gritty, Gillen's vocals engage listeners, leading them through a wide range of emotions with a musical intensity that crosses the border of traditional folk."
Gillen, a prolific songwriter, recording artist, and producer has been played on independent, commercial, public, and college radio all over the world. He is also a member of and co-writer for the band Hope Machine which is an Official Program of the Woody Guthrie Foundation and Archives. His work has received critical acclaim and commercial exposure on radio and national TV shows, including ABC's All My Children and MSG Network's NYC Soundtracks. GIllenʼs song Fall Down was featured on the 2008 CMJ Music Marathon Sampler CD, distributed to 11,000 conference attendees and radio programmers at the conference.
Gillen will be on tour this summer and fall with this latest album, gracing stages from NYC to San Diego with his passionate lyrics. “Grief can be as constructive as joy and pain” says Gillen, “but anger, for me, leads almost inevitably to trouble. The thing that seems to work for me most of the time, is love.”
—, May 29, 2012

"With nine albums listed on the All Music Guide from 1997′s Intentions as Big as the Sky up to Match Against a New Moon (along with the 2008 Gillen & (Matt) Turk effort, Backs to the Wall), this 2012 release -listed as the eighth full length from Fred Gillen Jr – Silence of the Night makes for an enormous body of work to absorb from the journeyman artist.
The trouble with a waterfall of so much melody, instrumentation and production is that the general public may have a hard time focusing on one song to propel the singer into the commercial realm so many seek. Opening with the subtly sacrilegious “Morphine Angel” we find she’s no cousin to Marianne Faithful and the Rolling Stones’ “Sister Morphine”, a dirge that fits better as an opening act to the Velvet Underground than the “American Folk” advertised. Probably not a sequel to “Primitive Angel” from the previous and aforementioned Match Against a New Moon (Fred does have an affinity for angels), the song is an odd choice to open the disc with.
More preferable to these ears would be the title track, “Silence of the Night’, with its exquisite Beatle-esque phrasings and pretty backing vocals. “Vanity runs the world” and Al Pacino would have to agree while in character as Lucifer in The Devil’s Advocate (it’s his favorite sin!)…the song (“Vanity”) is terrific – and would also have been a choice pick to open “Silence of the Night”. So would “Find a Rodeo”, arguably the best track here, and a sublime country/rocker in the vein of Gram Parsons, the Byrds and Boston’s well-loved Country Bumpkins.
The cover of the John Lennon/Yoko Ono’s classic “Silence” (track 16), lasts only 30 seconds, though I don’t think John & Yoko are credited here. Find the original on “Unfinished Music No.2: Life With The Lions”. “This Town Is Our Song” is another gently played ode to another time, more optimistic than Simon & Garfunkel’s reunion tune “My Little Town”. Gillen plays all the instruments save drums which feature Eric Puente and the fiddle of Sarah Banks. Carolann Solebello’s duet vocals are perfect. There is a lot to explore on Silence of the Night, Gillen and Puente finding their groove again on “Only Sky”, a superb hook that is up there with “Vanity” and “Find A Rodeo” as the album favorites, at least for me.
It’s an ambitious effort by an ambitious singer who, of course, can’t resist penning a tune entitled “Angel.” No, not the Jimi Hendrix classic from The Cry Of Love / First Rays of the New Rising Sun. Perhaps Fred can cover that on his next outing." —Joe Viglione, August 2012



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