Erica Freas is an Olympia, Washington-based musician, founder of Rumbletowne Records, and an advocate for women, queer, trans people in the arts community and beyond.
She’s highly-regarded for her involvement punk bands RVIVR and Somnia as well as her acoustic solo projects. “I am in love with the way that a song feels different when it’s bare and stripped down and when it’s driving and loud. It can be more accessible and allow the beautiful parts of the lyrics or guitar melodies to stand out better. It’s exciting to play around with variation,” she said.
Though the sounds may vary, even when she is writing an intimate ballad, Freas’ punk roots are never totally out of the picture. “I’m playing to a drummer that’s not there and often writing that percussion into the guitar parts. Punk rock taught me how to sing loud with confidence and loads of my solo songs are down-picking the whole time. I’m a rocker even when I’m fingerpicking a lullaby, it’s just in there.”
On September 30, Freas will release her latest solo album on Don Giovanni Records, titled Patient Ones. A prolific songwriter, the album’s songs are a from collection of material she’s been steadily building on since her 2012 album Belly, and an EP titled “Tether” she released the following year. “I’ve got these songs coming through, and every now and then the basin gets full and there’s enough material to make a collection,” she said.
Despite the solo nature of the album, its final additions stemmed from a participating in a project with other songwriters. “At the end of 2015 I realized I was close to having enough songs to choose some that fit together nicely and then in January of this year I did a song-a-day challenge with a group of writers across a swath of underground genres and found the inspiration to complete this new record….It feels a little bit like I don’t get to choose when it’s time for a new record but it’s my job to work really hard on making it real when the time comes,” she said.”
Production on the record is minimal, but with Freas’ smooth voice and the luscious, warm tones of her Martin 0015M (which she sometimes runs through a Fender Deville 4×10 combo), you wouldn’t want it any other way. Cellist Jen Grady provides accompaniment on some tracks (including the recently-released, “Please Go Walk in the Rain), but otherwise Freas is completely on her own.
“Moon,” the latest track to be revealed from the album, was inspired by Freas’ personal experience but hits on a subject familiar to anyone who has ever had unrequited feelings for someone they may never have. “‘Moon’ is a song wrapped around the gigantic sense of yearning that only belongs to people who can’t touch or see or feel the horizon of reunion with someone they long for. I wrote it with an incredible human on the mind but I won’t kiss and tell,” says Freas. Beginning with fingerpicked guitar parts and hushed vocals, the song builds in volume and power to a strummed, anthemic conclusion.
Listen to “Moon” now. You can pre-order Patient Ones here before it comes out on 10/14.