Review: Roger Street Friedman’s Ode to Optimism

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Roger Street Friedman/Love Hope Trust/independent
3.5 out of Four Stars

Roger Street Friedman’s optimistically inscribed fourth album offers a snapshot of a world gone awry and the resilience it takes to make one’s way toward promise and prosperity in spite of it all. Written —naturally enough—during the pandemic—it’s a series of vignettes that capture ordinary common folk dealing with the typical cares and concerns that entangle us all. Still, for the most part, it’s an album devoid of despair. I am thankful for his day, for the love my family gave, for the sacrifices made, I am thankful for this day, he sings on “Thankful For This Day,” a litany of reasons to be grateful, even in the midst of the difficulties the world has witnessed. 

So too, the title track, which serves as the album’s rollicking opening salvo, sets the tone, later amplified by “Vapor in the Air,” a sunny song with a reggae-like lilt, and “Cut Your Losses,” a song that sways and sashays to Goldstein’s accordion accompaniment. 


Of course, there is a thoughtful side to these musings as well, as echoed in the quiet repose hinted at in such songs such as “Mother and Son” and “In the Summertime,” an expression of deeper emotions and erstwhile reflection about people and places that populate Friedman’s past, but still remain vital in both memory and meaning. So too, the darker designs that drape the proceedings—as found in such songs as “The Ghost of Sugarland,” a treatise about the horrors of racism, and the mystery surrounding a displaced little girl as detailed in “Annabelle”—find Friedman conveying deeper concerns that linger slightly below the surface. 

With Larry Campbell overseeing the production, arrangements, and the bulk of the instrumental duties, along with Jason Crosby on keyboards, Teresa Williams, Lucy Kaplansky, and others on backing vocals, added contributions from bassist Matthew Schneider and drummer Jim Toscano and cameos from Gil Goldstein on accordion, the album is imbued with the tones and textures that are fitting and appropriate for these shared soundscapes. A short documentary about the making of the album, which features the musicians in the studio, offers an insightful glimpse into the recording process and their creative collaboration.

Watch below:

In short, Friedman’s return to making music after a 25-year hiatus that found him dealing with family and other personal issues has been a prosperous one for him creatively. With Love Hope Trust, he finds all the attributes and emotions expressed in the title, and far more. 

Photo by Jenny He / Prospect Pr

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