Here Come the Savages (Blue Door)
Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., April 22, 2016
Since 2011's Saint Monday, Michael Fracasso has undergone major life changes. Most notably a divorce. No surprise, then, that Here Come the Savages, his ninth studio effort since arriving in Austin from NYC in 1990, can be accurately described as a breakup record. It's different from his previous work where he dug into vivid stories mainly from the outside. His songwriting remains impressive, but with the addition of some well-chosen and often unexpected covers, he delves into his feelings of love, loss, and mixed emotions deeper than before. He's never more direct than "You Don't Love Me," a moment among many that's achingly dark and pleading. Those sentiments are echoed in the piano ballad title track, Fracasso remarkably fragile, not quite steady, perhaps awaiting the lawyer's arrival. Little wonder he becomes a "Blind Man on a Bicycle," apt description of the unmoored feelings one gets at a relationship's end. Most will latch on to the cover material: a haunted reading of the Beach Boys' "Caroline, No," a near Beatlesque trip into psychedelia on the Young Rascals' "How Can I Be Sure?," and at the end of the set, a reassuring, bright, and poppy rendition of the Kinks' "Better Things." "I know tomorrow we'll find better things," he shouts, a perfect ending to the harrowing times and displaced sensibilities that precede it.