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http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/a2f073925ad46b6c00bdc11867d10c576cfa89d5.jpg Scars & Stories

The Fray

Scars & Stories

Epic
Rolling Stone: star rating
Community: star rating
5 2 0
February 7, 2012

"I wanna kiss your scars tonight," Isaac Slade sings on "Heartbeat," a hope-rock anthem inspired by a visit to Rwanda. If it were a Lonely Island parody of an earnest rock band it'd be kind of funny. Unfortunately, the Fray are terrifyingly serious. Six years since their hit "How to Save a Life," they're still pumping American-Coldplay ballads full of sky-groping choruses and symphonic rushes. Producer Brendan O'Brien seems to have pushed them to turn down the Chris Martin piano rock a little. But a song about a boxer losing his last bout while his woman calls out his name ("The Fighter") is a patient beyond song-doctoring.

Listen to "Heartbeat":

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    Song Stories

    “Try a Little Tenderness”

    Otis Redding | 1966

    This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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