Building on the accomplishments of his acclaimed previous albums, “The Way We Are” and “Moonlit River”, Fred Moolten has created an extraordinary work - matching the previous ones in emotional intensity, but revealing a new maturity that consolidates his reputation as an artist in full control of his medium. These thirteen songs, mostly folk with a touch of blues and country, reflect Moolten’s almost supernal ability to plumb the depths of human experience in his serious lyrics, revel in the joyousness of his lighter ones, and in each case place his words in a musical setting best suited to their literal and emotional content. These are songs that linger in memory long after the last note is played.
As in previous albums, a Fred Moolten song here is often a minidrama - beginning placidly and not revealing its full turbulence until the end. This feature is probably most striking in his bluesy "I'm Gonna Be Happy", but is heard elsewhere as well (as in "Now And Then, where "we're just doing fine" in the first verse is later transformed into "your heart's a beast that takes you where it wants to go").
Listeners familiar with “Moonlit River” will once again recognize the warm, expressive voice of Lisa Hindmarsh, who shares lead vocal honors with Jay Hitt. Hitt’s superb guitar work adds to the power of the music, and the instrumental contributions of Sam Reese, Tom and Laurie Hitt, and Rachel Unkle lend additional luster to the artistry of Moolten’s arrangements. With “No Other Prize”, Fred Moolten takes one step closer to recognition as among the finest working in the folk genre today.
Some fragments from the lyrics:
CAT LULLABY ("You'll go to where the winter sun is warm, You'll go to where the summer nights are cool")
MAKING MUSIC (“Play me soft and play me slow”)
PHANTOM LOVE (“What’s lost is long beyond reclaim in winter, summer, spring")
FEAR OF GOD ("I hear her last cry, I watch her last breath, then I see her shrouded in the smoke of death". Listeners may find it interesting that this song was written prior to September 11, 2001)
I’M GONNA BE HAPPY ("There are things I still remember but they're leaves on a September tree")
SEPARATION (“I would trade my soul to heal that open wound”)
LETTERS ("I listen to the whispering of leaves the west wind stirs" - a story based on correspondence in Andrew Carroll’s best-selling book “War Letters”)
NO OTHER PRIZE (“If dreams are what you’re after, kiss me now and I’ll be gone”)