When Upper West Side native Tom Freund returns home for a Thursday gig at Rockwood Music Hall in NYC, it’s not just a homecoming, not just a celebration of his latest and greatest album 2 Moons; it’s a ride that he hopes listeners will still be willing to take with him.
“I still value taking people on that ride,” said Freund, who now makes his home in southern California. “Because my music is a reflection of my life, I assume that people will go with me on that ride. There’s a lot of info and a lot of stuff going on there, but I said this from the very first record I put out: I do believe that there’s always a light at the end of my tunnel. Even when my songs get weird or dark, I feel like there’s always an out. I would never say my stuff is cryptic. Even when I sort of go into a downer thing, I’m searching in there for – it sounds cheesy – but the light. I think I’m searching to get a better place.”
It’s why the witty and gritty singer-songwriter can go from an uplifting tune like “Lemme Be Who I Wanna Be” to the more wistful “Happy Days Lunch Box” and still make it work
“That may be the weirdest song I’ve ever written,” said Freund of the latter tune, which name checks The Fonz and latchkey kids, two terms that may draw questions from younger folks, but that hit home for all of us ‘of a certain age.’ Freund laughs, but explains “It’s a very vulnerable song too; it’s that growing up song.”
Freund has grown up pretty well, with 2 Moons seeing him more comfortable in his own skin than ever. The 11 tracks show him laid-back but intense, pensive but willing to let the sun in as well. Most telling is his ability to sing about his own life but making it as if he’s singing about yours at the same time.
“I’m getting that about the record a bunch, which is super cool,” he said. “I would hope that when I’m writing stuff I’m not consciously thinking of a universal thing. I’m really drawing from my own self, but I guess I try to present it in a way where there must be some light on that says ‘God, I hope other people get this.’ I don’t know how conscious that process is, but I think a light’s on in that shop for sure.”
The light’s on and Freund – who will be joined by friend and sometime collaborator Ben Harper tomorrow night – has his shop open for business. So who’s coming along for the ride? Freund believes there are plenty of listeners who want to.
“I still think there is a crowd that wants to go deeper,” he said. “The attention span might be a little shorter, but I feel they do. If you start going off and saying there’s no good art today, I think that’s dangerous, because I think people are ready to take the trip and there is a crowd that’s into that. Of course you’ve got to get them first, and that’s not as easy as an artist putting just out a record. When Joni Mitchell or Neil Young put out a record back in the day, there weren’t three million other artists to choose from. Now the floodgates are open, and people are trying to find deep and meaningful stuff in the midst of a deluge of material.”
Well, here’s your flashlight. Find Tom Freund.
Tom Freund plays Rockwood Music Hall in New York City on Thursday, July 24. For tickets, click here.