HGR CD Review: The Lone Wolf Project

THE LONE WOLF PROJECT – OLD WORDS, NEW CHAPTERS (Susquehanna Entertainment) From his home base of Mount Wolf (near York), Small Town Titans lead singer Phil Freeman started his solo folk/blues rock endeavor The Lone Wolf Project five years ago, and has toured nationally. The Lone Wolf Project’s latest CD, Old Words, New Chapters, indulges different cracks and crevices of Freeman’s musical personality and world. Playing guitar, banjo, bass, harmonica and various percussion, his sound mixes elements of acoustic folk, Americana, blues and rock elements; and his gruff howl recalls classic Tom Waits and Dr. John. Each song demonstrates a different slant and vibe, from punchy to tranquil, as Freeman croons about life’s ups and downs, incorporating clever metaphorical wordplays along the way. Setting an early delta blues tone, “The Arrival” starts by embracing the new day, its challenges and possibilities. Freeman muses about temptation and redemption on “Water Into Wine,” with cello and mariachi-styled trumpets coloring its path. Freeman leaves the past behind with the upbeat “Blood Sucker Blues,” goes for the gusto on the Dave Matthews-tinged “The Bridge,” and builds to a horn-laced crescendo on the raucous “Up, Down, Turn Around.” In a calmer vein, “Family Ties” champions the preservation of life’s remnants and connecting threads, and Freeman croons duets with guests Dana Alexandra and Rachel Lightner on “Down South” and “Ice Breaker” respectively. Evolving from a country-driven start into a punchy rant, the title song “Old Words, New Chapters” closes the album with Freeman realizing that his creativity and wisdom must stay honest and grounded by reality. Freeman’s melodies are crisp and strong, and his arrangements are bare-bones and let the instrumentation do the talking. Producer Jason Rubal preserves the stripped-down feel of the overall set, while enabling Freeman’s voice to deliver the appropriate acid and edge. Old Words, New Chapters further defines The Lone Wolf Project’s sonic frontier, and shows Freeman to be a lone wolf with a clever musical bite. (The CD can be purchased from the website www.thelonewolfproject.com.)