Reverend Freakchild

Reverend Freakchild

The most Reverend Freakchild opens his latest and 18th album, Bare Bones, by offering the philosophical track “All I Got Is Now,” with a lyric that sets the tone for the musical thoughts that follow – an exercise in bluesy Buddhism and other mystical delights: “Yesterdays are history / Tomorrows are a mystery / All I got is now / But I keep forgetting that somehow.”

But that’s just a fraction of the lyrical output on Bare Bones, all of which springs from the fertile Freakchild mind, which seems unceasingly occupied by erudite elucidations of the mysteries of life through music. The magical mystery tours of his lyrics easily flow from the delicate to the desolate, but never fail to fascinate. The Rev has said that he’s a Buddhist but considers music his religion. Both the blues and Buddhism, he says, can be seen as ways of confronting reality and the truth of human suffering: “I seek transcendence through song.”

For this Bare Bones transcendence, the Rev has reprised the nine tracks on his 2023 album, Songs Of Beauty For Ashes Of Realization, and pared back its more experimental musical vibe to a solo acoustic effort. The session was recorded live with no edits at the Chattanooga Public Library Studios, making it as close as possible to a musical stream of consciousness.

Following the opening track, “Dial It In” takes us on the road, humming with song: “Gonna drive ’til I get lost and found again / Gonna turn on the radio and dial it in.” The Rev’s raspy vocals add a world-weary elegance here and everywhere, fueled by his sharp acoustic work, all nicely flavored with the blues.

The introspective “All Across America” asks: “Is that me in the mirror, oh lord, what have I become.
 / Yes, I do believe that’s the dude that I’ve been running from.” The shuffling whimsy of “Hippy Bluesman Blues” laments a bad Frisco trip: “There ain’t no problems only solutions / I think I’m gonna join the revolution / I got the Hippie Bluesman Blues.”

“Amsterdam Blues” is twice reprised, having first appeared on the Rev’s 2001 debut album, “Blues & Spirituals.” He makes a spiritual journey for secular pleasures: “Just grooving there in Amsterdam, trying to get my senses satisfied / Sex and smoke everywhere, think you went to heaven and died.” The guitar work could easily just have arrived from the Delta. “Tears Of Fire” offers a melancholy message to rhythmic guitar: “She got words in her hand / Well it seems like she’s always got her tongue wrapped around the name of another man.” “Skyflower” is as delicate as its name: “Now I’m secretly sending magic mettā with my mind / The wind blows around the edges of the wise and the kind.”

The bluesy textured “Don’t Miss Nothing ‘Til It’s Gone” is an unflinching desolate lyrical portrait: “So when that moon comes up blood red, / Yeah and the seas begin to boil, / May the lord have mercy on us all, / And may we all hear them angels call.”

The album closes with the Rev’s respectful original and very respectable solo acoustic version of “Keep On Truckin’,” inspired by the legendary bluesman Blind Boy Fuller and the Grateful Dead’s psychedelic lyricist Robert Hunter: “Keep on Truckin’ – like that old doo-dah man / Keep on Truckin’ – Just the best that you can.”

Finally, for Freakchild fans and would-be aficionados, there’s a second album (Bonus CD) in this package, aptly titled “Odds, Ends & Interviews,” filled with songs and interviews that may help expand your awareness of the consciousness of the Reverend Freakchild and lead you to enlightenment.

And by the way: Just who is the Reverend Freakchild? Just ask him:

“When folks ask me if I’m a real Reverend I often ask, with no disrespect, what do you mean by a ‘real’ Reverend? And then I let them know that the Reverend Freakchild character is something of an artistic philosophical investigation into the human experience through the music of the blues and spirituals.”

Jim White (a former music writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette & now writes the Blues Roadhouse)





JUNE 21, 2024