Gary Frenay

Jigsaw People

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Gary Frenay's second solo album moves away from the acoustic singer/songwriter sound of Armory Square and seems to commit more completely to the easy listening pop vibe that has always run through his music. The results of the more detailed production are mixed. The album is certainly more colorful than its predecessor, but it's also a little less consistent both in style and quality. The opening number, "We Connect," is an undeniably catchy pop tune with gratingly obvious lyrical references ("we're like jigsaw people with our bodies interlocking") to the album's overextended concept (which is explained proudly in the cover art: "14 songs about how people fit together and break apart"). "Nothing Can Take the Place of Tenderness," "The Way We Carry On," and "I Need to Be Sure of You" are lite jazz-pop tunes of a sort that might be handled well by Barry Manilow or Tony Bennett. "Dancing at the U.N." and "It's All in the Way You Look at It" are closer to early-'80s rock. For the most part, Frenay's compositions are as assured as ever (the atrociously bouncy "You're Not the Police" is the main exception), but his songs are completely overshadowed by his beautiful cover of Catie Curtis' folky "Troubled Mind." Frenay's excellent arrangement features wistful harmonica and cello accompaniment and a lovely harmony vocal by Curtis herself. Frenay's own voice has never sounded better, and his own music is rarely as genuine.

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