Mixing a sound that recalls George Strait, another rancher and singer, Todd Fritsch's Up Here In The Saddle is the most commercial and most consistent album of his career. The lead single "Calls I Haven't Made" [Listen Here] (written by Wilhem and Michael Terrence Post), tells us to remember to take time to call those who've had an impact in our lives and thank them for everything they have did for us. It's a driving mid-tempo ballad which is wholly contemporary and radio ready (it's currently heating up radio charts worldwide). Both uptempo rockers "My Kind Of Crowd" and "That Ain't Gonna Fly" also have radio-ready, of the moment production and sounds with the latter mixing a little "60s rockabilly" style to parts of the melody and vibe.
With beautiful fiddle fills the ballad "In A Song" tells exactly what I feel when I listen to music. It can touch your heart in ways that few things outside of love can achieve. It's a strong song and in a perfect world this kind of track would be a big hit on radio but if radio won't play "The Sound of a Million Dreams" from David Nail, there's likely no way they'd play this song as a single either. "Love Never Goes Out of Style" is a sing-a-long ready mid-tempo that recalls Strait (and it's not one of the Dean Dillon co-writes either). Speaking of Dean Dillon, "Horses He Can't Ride Anymore" is the kind of story song that only could be a country music song. It's a song about a man who cannot ride horses because of life and age. It's a song that recalls Chris LeDoux and Dillon's own music. Scotty Emerick and Al Anderson co-wrote the track with Dillon and given Fritsch's own history mentioned above (the roping accident), it certainly hits home for the singer.
"Top Of My List" is a contemporary-sounding Dillon/John Northrup co-write that finds Fritsch in fine form singing about the things that he loves the most, particularly 'waking up next to' the love of his life. It's a jovial song that would sound great coming out of the radio and internet radio stations next to any country music hits of the moment (and recent past). The same thing which can be said about the laid-back fiddle and steel guitar-laced "It Don't Hurt To Ask." "Up Here In The Saddle" is a fun duet with Dean Dillon while "Like I Wasn't Even There" is the kind of heart-wrenching, tear-in-your-beer ballad that has been a staple of country music for decades and is ably performed with all the required emotion by Tood Fritsch.
It couldn't have been easy for Todd Fritsch to delay both his career and his ranching ways while recovering from the devastating accident but if anything what it did do is allow him plenty of time to think of the direction he'd like to take his musical career and it's a direction that suits him just fine. There's not a bad song to be found on Up Here In The Saddle and the album is certainly the best of his career and one of the best independent country albums of all of 2012 through the first half of 2012.