Todd Fritsch 'Up Here In The Saddle' - Saddle Up

His latest album finds Fritsch kicking things up a notch. He is a more assured vocalist and has found a sympathetic producer in Butch Baker. The sound is indistinguishable from many a mainstream major label release. Which given the quality of the players involved should be no surprise. The surprise is that Fritsch is still likely considered 'too country' for some programmer's tastes. The presence of 5 Dean Dillon co-writes is a pretty good indication of what Fritsch likes. Dillon is a respected writer (and artist) who has written a lot of songs that were recorded by George Strait. But in these times you will find few albums bearing Dillon's credit, something equally true of such writers as Jim Lauderdale or Kostas. These guys know how to write a country song, but other than generic list songs very few are getting cut these days outside of a still thriving indie sector. The best songs here are those that relate to something that Fritsch so obviously loves and that is being in the saddle or riding in a pick-up. In that respect Fritsch is in the mode of the late great Chris LeDoux. As a Texan he is steeped in the twin traditions of country music and countryside. This is mirrored in the theme of songs like Horses He Can't Ride Anymore and Up Here In The Saddle, the latter is, in fact, a duet with Dean Dillon. But that don't mean that this is a retro cowboy album. Far from it, as Fritsch opens with the drum heavy My Kind Of Crowd that should, in truth, fit right in at radio. Hell, there's even a list song, written by Dillon and John Northrup titled clearly enough Top Of My List. The lost-love drinking songs are there too in the likes of That Ain't Gonna Fly. And he can also deliver a ballad like In A Song with ease. In other words Fritsch has made an album that will have a wide appeal. That Fritsch isn't a writer, on this particular album, means that as a singer he has chosen a set of songs that he is comfortable with and therefore believes in and can deliver with confidence. When Fritsch is in the saddle he's having a good time and his fans will pick up on that and will have a good time with this too.