Music Review: 'Oh My Goodness,' Donnie Fritts For over 40 years, Donnie Fritts has been a musician, an actor and a songwriter. Music reviewer Meredith Ochs says his latest album, Oh My Goodness, contributes to an Americana legacy that continues to inspire.
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Music Review: 'Oh My Goodness,' Donnie Fritts

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Music Review: 'Oh My Goodness,' Donnie Fritts

Review

Music Reviews

Music Review: 'Oh My Goodness,' Donnie Fritts

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Do you know this guy?

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SUMPIN FUNKY GOIN' ON")

DONNIE FRITTS: There's sumpin funky goin' on.

SHAPIRO: This is Donnie Fritts. He's 72 now and has been revisiting and reinventing material from his past. He's one of the creators of the famed Muscle Shoals Sound.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SUMPIN FUNKY GOIN' ON")

FRITTS: (Singing) I was born in Alabama 30 years ago under the sign of Scorpio.

SHAPIRO: In the '70s, he was part of the Outlaw Country Movement. He's also written pop hits, acted in films, and he was Kris Kristofferson's keyboardist for years. But in a career spanning more than five decades, Fritts has made only four solo albums. His latest is out now, and it's called "Oh My Goodness." Meredith Ochs says it's fun and authentically him.

MEREDITH OCHS, BYLINE: His friends call him Funky Donnie Fritts and the Alabama Leaning Man, and his songs embody both of those nicknames - laid-back with a low, swampy groove and effortlessly cool with lyrics that are often as funny as they are romantic.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MEMPHIS WOMEN AND CHICKEN")

FRITTS: (Singing) And I'm heading into Memphis, Memphis, Tenn. That's the one place in this world I can get something good to eat. I'm hungry for some lovin' and some fried chicken that goes down greasy and they're finger lickin'. I know just where to go. There's a woman I know. She shakes it up right and lets it simmer real slow.

OCHS: It isn't just his great humor and natural groove that have drawn artists to Donnie Fritts for decades. He also lent them the distinct sound of his Wurlitzer, a type of electric piano. His new album draws a whole new generation of collaborators, including Brittany Howard of the Alabama Shakes and Jason Isbell. But they all hang back, putting Fritts front and center.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LAY IT DOWN")

FRITTS: (Singing) Down the dusty Dixie road, my old Levi's draggin' tracks. Nobody cares about where I'm goin'. For all they know, I'm coming back.

OCHS: The songs Donnie Fritts chose for his latest project span most of his career, but it's a new song that best captures his old life. A black-and-white snapshot of his early years, it tells the story of the band he joined at age 15.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TUSCALOOSA 1962")

FRITTS: (Singing) Hollis Dixon and the Keynotes playing of eternities. I was all drunk. I didn't play so hot, but I kept a good beat.

OCHS: This track makes a perfect song cycle of Fritts' new album. It reflects the joy of being a young musician learning to gauge the audience's response, trading ideas with other players and forging a sound that would stretch across a lifetime of gigs and recordings.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TUSCALOOSA 1962")

FRITTS: (Singing) And it was roll tide all night long.

OCHS: Donnie Fritts always seems to be on the periphery, but he's the guy coloring in between the lines, boosting every song he touches with the rich, muted tone of his keyboards and contributing to an Americana legacy that continues to inspire.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IF IT'S REALLY GOT TO BE THIS WAY")

FRITTS: (Singing) If it's really got to be this way, I can take it. I know. I'll just carry on day to day until I can make it on my own.

SHAPIRO: Meredith Ochs is a talkshow host and DJ at Sirius XM radio. She reviewed "Oh My Goodness" by Donnie Fritts.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IF IT'S REALLY GOT TO BE THIS WAY")

FRITTS: (Singing) I forgive you, Girl, by and by. And I'll forget you some day if it's really got to be this way. If this is what you think you need, then go ahead, Girl, and do it. It doesn't make a lot of sense to me. But if it's what you want...

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