When Jonny Fritz released Dad Country in 2013, an album full of clever turns of phrase and surreal imagery, he made a case for being today’s Roger Miller. With Sweet Creep, his first new album in three years, he strengthens that bid, delivering country songs that revel in the eccentric.
Due October 14th, Sweet Creep includes tracks about unchecked desire (“Humidifier”), life on the road (“Fifteen Passenger Van”) and an infamous Nashville hotel (“Stadium Inn”). It’s also his second album under his given name — he released the fabulously irreverent trucker LP Down on the Bikini Line as “Jonny Corndawg” in 2011.
Sweet Creep‘s lead-off track “Are You Thirsty” is a compassionate, caring ballad that hypnotizes with its rhythm. (Listen to the song above.) Fritz says it was inspired by bumping into an old — and sober — friend at the birthday party of fellow singer-songwriter Nikki Lane.
“A friend of ours, who no one had seen in a long time, showed up and everyone lost it. ‘We haven’t see you in forever! Where the fuck have you been?,'” he tells Rolling Stone Country. “She just kind of looked at everyone with a little judgey glint in her eye and said calmly, ‘Yeah. . . I guess I sort of took a break from drinking.’ This song is half for her and half for everyone with addiction problems. Robert Ellis helped me finish it, which is perfect because it’s half about him too.”
Fritz found inspiration for Sweet Creep while on a tour of India with Ellis. Upon returning to the States, he refined existing songs and wrote new ones, recording the album in his new homebase of Los Angeles with My Morning Jacket’s Jim James as producer.
“I read something in an astrology coffee-table book recently that really summed up what I have been trying to describe of my writing for years. It said that for me specifically,” Fritz explains, “that the one theme that sums up my entire worldview and outlet is finding the divine in the mundane. It’s embarrassing to have such a cheesy book nail it so hard, but I have to say that when writing this record, I focused hard on the mundane. The divine mundane. The things that nobody else wants or cares to notice have always been the things that stick out to me.”
For the album, Fritz reunited with ace fiddle player Joshua Hedley and Dawes’ Taylor and Griffin Goldsmith.
“I think I did a good job on getting that theme across in the writing,” Fritz says of the divine mundane. “Then to bring these songs to Taylor and Jim and have them birth it into the world with such hairy and loving arms, it just couldn’t be more perfect.”
Fritz will hit the road with Jamestown Revival beginning in October:
10/17 – Indianapolis, IN @ The Hi-Fi
10/18 – St. Louis, MO @ Old Rock House
10/19 – Madison, WI @ High Noon Saloon
10/20 – St. Paul, MN @ Turf Club
10/22 – Chicago @ Park West
10/24 – New York City @ Bowery Ballroom
10/26 – Washington, D.C. @ U Street Music Hall
10/27 – Philadelphia @ World Café Live
10/28 – Providence, RI @ Fete Lounge
10/29 – Boston @ Royale
10/30 – Portland, ME @ Port City Music Hall
11/1 – Nashville @ Exit/In
11/3 – Dallas, TX @ Kessler Theater
11/4 – Austin, TX @ Emo’s
11/5 – Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall
11/10 – Los Angeles @ El Rey Theatre