State of Grace
In the liner notes of his 2000 release, When I Bleed, Brian Fitzpatrick introduces listeners to his music with the words, 'It's serious, ya know...not to be taken lightly and not for the faint of heart.' And, although he couldn't possibly have foreseen all the forces that were yet to combine or the songs he was yet to write, still, reading this sentiment two years down the road one can't help but feel hairs rising on the back of one's neck as it's words take on the unmistakable dint of prophecy. In State of Grace, Fitzpatrick's third release for his self-owned Mandala imprint, both the promise of his prior efforts, and the warning of a previously unexplored darkness within, are all brought to a resounding and enviably fearless fruition. A seasoned performer, Fitzpatrick, now 28, walked away from early success as a member of various hardcore bands that toured the United States and Europe, to embrace his calling as an acoustic singer/songwriter. 'It was really confusing,' he said of that time. 'I was up there on stage with 5000 people in front of me and realized none of it meant anything. It wasn't me.' In the wake of this epiphany, Brian left the punk scene with no idea of what to do next. 'Friends, my parents, would ask what I was going to do,' he recalls laughingly, 'and I'd say, 'I don't know'. They'd just look at me, as though waiting for my real answer. So I would give it to them. 'I don't know.' I think it scared them even more than it scared me.' What he did do was get together with longtime friends Ed Fritz, Arthur Solari and producer Mike Ward to begin recording the sort of introspective songs that he'd been writing since the tender age of 11. These songs would eventually make up his first release, Other Side. Immediately, Fitzpatrick realized he had made the right decision. A regular schedule of live appearances and a second album followed. Still, Brian felt plagued by an inability to adequately translate his live performance quality into his recorded work. Determined to surmount this before embarking on his third effort, Brian firmly decided something had to change. This led him on a quest that ended with producer Jerry Jones (The Fiendz, Fac-toids, Plug Uglies). Jones attended numerous live shows and worked closely with Brian to understand both his goals and the limitations that had previously kept him from achieving them. And after much discussion and even more experimentation, they went into the studio. The outcome: an album that would, at last, capture the songs, the spirit, and the full musical expression of Brian Fitzpatrick Once more accompanied by Fritz (piano, accordion, backup vocals), Solari (drums, percussion), and Jones (bass guitar), with guest contributions by Claudia Chopek (violin) and Erik Cerame (acoustic guitar, mandolin), Fitzpatrick has indeed achieved what he set out to do. State of Grace, an honest and beautifully organic album, draws on the artist's inherent intelligence, vocal ability and gift for storytelling that clearly bespeaks his Irish heritage. In it, Brian has crafted a wonderfully eclectic, yet cohesive map of human experience that beckons us to join him on his - and our own - sometimes tortuous journey. From the lovely Stars End, the full-band glory of Thinking the soul-searching darkness of Such As I to the violence-tinged Cross That Line, humorously insightful Incidental and fittingly soft, sparse title track that concludes the album, Fitzpatrick displays an increasing power and maturity as both a songwriter and performer. Clearly this album illustrates why Rolling Stone Online dubbed him 'a writer to keep an eye on'...not to mention one worth lending both a willing ear and an open mind.