George Strait once sang "When you hear twin fiddles and a steel guitar, you're listening to the sound of the American Heart" and that's exactly what is happening when you listen to Todd Fritsch's sophomore album "Sawdust." Released in 2007 on Spinville Records, the album features a steady package of seventeen songs that couldn't be considered anything but country music. An owner of a working ranch like Strait, Fritsch also has an ear for interesting songs like the Billy Yates and Will Nance-penned "No Part Of," the Donny Kees and Buddy Brock-penned "Guilty Conscience" and his last (and current) single from this project, John Ramey and Tony Colton's "Texas Talkin'." All of these songs, along with seven of his own co-writes, manage to showcase all the various sides of Fritsch's artistry.
The lead-off track on the album "What's Wrong With Me" bristles with a mainstream energy but the song, which also was the first single from the album in 2007, has a lyric that is anything but cookie cutter while second track "The Rock" finds Todd flexing his storytelling muscles. The lyrics of the song, which was written by Aaron Scherz, Jeff Batson and Thom Shepherd, find Fritsch singing about the way a Church was the foundation and center of a small town. This kind of 'proud of my roots' country song is what many mainstream artists would be smart to look at as it's a song with lyrics that are anything but trite. Another song that proudly proclaims its country roots is "If You Don't Like country (Time To Leave)." It is unabashedly country and damn it, if you don't like that, Fritsch says it's time to leave. While this song is somewhat along the lines of what mainstream radio is playing these days, it too feels more heartfelt than other 'I'm Country'" songs.
"Life's A Circle" features stellar musical performances with ample fiddle and mandolin filling out the song as Todd sings about the hard work ethic he learned from his grandfather. Another musically spirited track is the Western Swingin' "Five Mornings Down." It's a song that is sure to have Bob Wills smiling in approval above which is something that Ernest Tubb is probably doing as well with "Honky Tonk Talk," a fun little track that was penned by Leland Martin. If there is any complaint to say about this record it is that Fritsch covers most of the diverse Country music genre and could do well to reign-in the 'kitchen sink' approach the next time. That being said "Sawdust" is a fine example of what Country music can be if the labels would get out of the way and let the artists do their own things, because -most of the time- the artist will get it right and deliver a solid to great selection of songs.