You’ve Got the Wrong Man
(Wrong Reasons Records)
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
There’s much to be said about a folksinger who can get their story songs out in about three minutes or less. Woody Guthrie, Jimmie Rodgers and Hank Williams made a habit of it and so did their acolytes Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger and dozens of other similarly styled troubadours. So, East Nashville’s Joe Fletcher is in good company for the shorter songs on his first solo release where only a handful of tracks break the three minute barrier and none go over four. A veteran of two previous albums with his Wrong Reasons band, Fletcher goes it alone with just acoustic and electric guitar and no overdubs this time out.
The non-produced, self-made quality is real, raw and unvarnished which perfectly reflects these crusty nuggets about broken down and busted motels, relationships and people. The tunes fit the standard folk format with strumming and fingerpicking leaving Fletcher’s words and rust tinged, talk-sung vocals to carry the weight, which they do just fine. This stripped down approach also makes it easy for Fletcher to open shows for Jason Isbell, Lucero, the Devil Makes Three and others who embellish this unadorned presentation with a bigger, often louder attack.
Backing vocals enhance the chorus of “I Never (Reprise)” and Fletcher plugs in for the gnarled “Blame Game Blues” but generally sticks to the basics of unembellished acoustic guitar where his words/stories are best heard and appreciated. These are simple, direct tales told with the weathered voice of a folksinger who isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel, just give it a few spirited turns and add his spin to the thousands that have come before him in this genre. There is a relaxed quality to Fletcher’s music that’s as lived in, tough and worn as the characters that populate his pieces.
The starkness of the material and presentation makes this album a diamond in the rough and Joe Fletcher a folksinger who seems to tap into a bottomless well of character driven story songs. Just like they did in the old days.