FREEMAN DRE & THE KITCHEN PARTY play the Horseshoe tonight (Thursday, July 19). See listing. Rating: NNN
On their new album, Parkdale troubadour Freeman Dre and his Kitchen Party band continue in the vein of their debut: harmonica-heavy roots rock with a Euro-folk-punk party vibe courtesy of accordion, mandolin and a bit of violin.
The focus this time is on Dre's Dylan-, Cohen- and Petty-inspired songwriting, and lyrics that loosely retell the story of his grandparents' immigration from Nazi-occupied Poland while also touching on the lives of family members who never made it to Canada.
Dre is still trying on different vocal styles, and he's best when least affected and letting the weight of the lyrics do the work, as on Wasted Every Time. Stories of his youth (Hey There Dillon) and present-day regrets (Whatever It Takes) creep in, and the album closes with a Village Green-style homage to an old hometown.
Top track: Wasted Every Time