Over the course of his career, singer/songwriter and Americana artist Tom Freund has released more than a dozen records, collaborated with legends such as Elvis Costello and Jackson Browne, pulled a half-decade stint on bass for alt-country pioneers The Silos, and has shared bills with everyone from Matthew Sweet to Guided by Voices. Freund’s intimate, heartfelt new solo album, East of Lincoln, chronicles a personal journey along the path from self doubt to enlightenment. “Time to take the wheel and turn this thing around / Time to make a deal and see what’s going down,” he affirms on “Runaround.” Freund takes his time and lets these new songs simmer, and that—along with memorable guest spots from longtime friend and collaborator Ben Harper and an all-star cast of session players—is a big part of record’s charm.
Quietly reveling in its unhurried pace, East of Lincoln sticks in the mind long after listening. Within the record’s framework, Freund tackles progress, hope, and the corporatization of his beloved Venice Beach, which he captures as a bittersweet vortex of vanishing beauty and possibility. “I know I’m no saint, but I know when something is good and when it ain’t,” he sings on the title track, mourning Venice’s fading allure while basking in its once-electric atmosphere. The album dances on the edge of a stark duality: the sun-drenched SoCal beach town’s demise and Freund’s own eventual growth arc. “Better start swimming toward the shore,” he urges on “Abandoning the Ship.”