There is a something both wonderful and scary about the way Fred Abong’s voice reaches out to the listener on his latest track, The Minit. It’s like someone leaning in to speak to you directly and comes across as both intimate and slightly unnerving, direct but uninvited and leaving you with the feeling that someone has invaded your personal space. But then music should take you off guard and Abong is the extreme opposite of the pop-pap and rock-dross which most people are happy to be serenaded and unchalleneged. Both as a member of bands such Throwing Muses and Belly and as a solo artist, his music has always cut through the crap, had something to say … even when you aren’t really sure what it is … and created something which stands apart in its own sonic world, rubbing shoulders with only a handful of like minded, odd-ball visionaries.
The Minit uses just a ragged and lilting guitar line to build its momentum, though words like meander or even ooze are perhaps more suited to its dark, stygian flow. And although Fred Abong is never one to be tied down on lyrical meanings or sonic message, he does admit that the song and the forthcoming album to follow, Our Mother of Perpetual Help, has perhaps absorbed something of the vibe of New Orleans, its depth, its history, its undercurrent, the city that he now calls home. As such, the song is about whatever you want it to be about, whatever works for you, though the video does play with images which can best be described as funereal, processional, reflective, nostalgic, melancholic and mournful.
Again, Fred Abong manages to get so much out of, what is essentially a single voice and a trusty acoustic guitar, proving, as always, that it is about the singer not the song, that it ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it and, if you will suffer one more cliche, that less is most definitely more. So much more.