Author Bram Stoker wrote his masterpiece, Dracula, when he was 50. Previous to that, he managed a theater and was an actor’s personal assistant. Frank McCourt had his first book, Angela’s Ashes, published when he was 66. McCourt’s debut skyrocketed him into the public eye, with him winning prestigious awards such as the Pulitzer, National Book Critics Circle Award, and the L.A. Times Book Award. Prior to authoring his milestone, he was a retired teacher.
Singer-songwriter Roger Street Freidman is 54, a husband and a father of two, and about to release his masterwork, Shoot The Moon. It’s a full-emotional spectrum collection of vivacious and reflective vignettes from real life that recalls the pop-rock singer-songwriter tradition of Jackson Browne, Marc Cohn, Randy Newman, Colin Hay, Bruce Hornsby, and Mark Knopfler. Few artists make albums like this today. In an age of irony, few songwriters are this brave in their vulnerability, and possess Friedman’s gift for penning hook-laden, emotionally resonant, pop-rock.
“When my dad passed away in 2004 it really hit me that this was not a dress rehearsal. When you turn 50, you start to hear about or lose people that are your own age. It gives me the sense that I’ve got a lot of work to do,” shares the Sea Cliff, New York-based artist.
Friedman has garnered acclaim for his debut, The Waiting Sky. Champions for the album include No Depression, American Songwriter, Relix Magazine, MSN, The Alternate Route, Elmore Magazine and the New York Daily News. Friedman supported the effort with local gigs and regional touring, interspersed with opening slots for such venerated artists as Los Lobos and The Blind Boys of Alabama.
Up until 2014, Friedman led a quaint life as a professional and a family man. As a kid he played music and even was a budding recording engineer. It was only after the loss of his father and mother in 2004 and 2006 respectively, and the birth of his daughter in 2006, that he was struck by the realization that his passion and talent for writing, performing and recording songs had not diminished.
After his issuing his debut, Friedman made the bold decision to pursue music fulltime. “It was scary, but I had gotten to a point where, to be myself, I had to give music everything I had,” Friedman says. “You only get one shot in this life, you have to go for broke, no matter what it takes.”
Shoot The Moon’s 13 masterfully crafted tracks snapshot the ephemeralness of life through revealing the poetry in the humble moments. Be it relationship struggles, pining for the innocent times of childhood, and self-growth after loss, Friedman crystalizes these feelings through deeply personal lyrics that resonate broadly in content and messaging.
The tracks on Shoot The Moon boast sharp hooks, imaginative arrangements, telepathic real-time musical interplay, and vocals that hit a magical emotive spot through being sage, soulful, and sweet. The Shoot The Moon sessions were captured on vibey analog equipment with Friedman and longtime Felix McTeigue (the co-writer of Florida Georgia Line’s chart-topping “Anything Goes” and Lori McKenna’s Grammy nominated single “Wreck You”) in joint producer and engineer roles. The album boasts cameos by Ari Hest, The Masterson’s, Jason Crosby, and Amy Helm (Levon Helm Band, the Dirt Farmer Band, the Midnight Ramble Band, Ollabelle, and Amy Helm & The Handsome Strangers). It was mixed by Grammy Award winner Paul Q. Kolderie (Radiohead, Pixies, Dinosaur Jr.).
Shoot The Moon exudes an album-oriented cohesion which is to say there is a broad spectrum of feelings and genres threaded together by Friedman’s well-developed aesthetic sense. His stylistic calling card is both earthy and urbane, spanning pastoral folk, euphoric New Orleans-style horn driven pop-rock, alt-country, blues and R&B.
Album standouts include “Puffs Of Smoke,” “Everyday,” Shoot The Moon,” “Tomorrow”, and “Tidal Wave.” The slinky “Puffs Of Smoke” opens the album, and is a tango gumbo of horn-driven Crescent City funk and swampy roots rock. Friedman waxes autobiographical on the bluegrass-tinged “Everyday” and the infectious “Shoot The Moon” which brims with punchy horns and Friedman’s twangy vocals wonderfully complimented by Amy Helm’s soaring gospel-inflected singing. “‘Everyday’ is about me getting out my own way to let myself open up, and ‘Shoot The Moon’ is one of those ‘life is short, go for broke’ songs,’” shares Friedman. The bittersweet “Tomorrow,” about a relationship going through hard times, features a stunning duet between Helm and Friedman. The redemptive “Tidal Wave,” tinged with Hammond organ and a powerful Gospel Choir, promises a new day filled with unflinching optimism.
Up next, Friedman will be sharing Shoot The Moon with audiences regionally, and through appearances at select festivals. He also currently has over an album’s worth of new material in the works. Reflecting on this era of fevered creativity and late-in-life self discovery, Friedman says: “You can’t rush the process. You can polish and chip away at the sculpture, but the evolution of the art takes the time it takes. For me, it feels fabulous to be where I’m at. I just have to stay open to the inspiration, and pour my heart and soul into the work. The rest is up to the universe.”
"...set the stage for the eclectic effort that meshes Americana, Folk, Blues, Soul and more” - Matt Inman | Relix Magazine
“He writes with the wisdom of someone who’s seen his share of living, and actually was savvy enough to take notes along the way…So here it is: what will surely be one of the best albums of this still brand new year—delivered right on time. Real life guaranteed.” - Bentley's Band Stand (read full review)
“One moment he’s turning out harmonically rich Paul Simon-esque art-folk; the next he’s digging into the kind of good ‘n’ greasy Americana groove John Hiatt would kill for.” - Jim Allen | CultureSonar (10 Albums to Look Out for in 1027) (read more)