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Tom Freund

If you're one who judges folks by the company they keep, make what you will of Tom Freund's collaborations with Ben Harper, The Silos, Victoria Williams and Graham Parker. Hint: It's not just because he's cute, in that reckless-poet sort of way.

For more than a decade, Freund's been a favored sideman on upright bass. His three solo albums have revealed equal prowess on mandolin, guitar, electric guitar and piano. Rare as it is for a singer-songwriter to be so musicianly (honestly, don't you get bored with all those chord strummers?), Freund is a gifted lyricist, as well.

His 2004 release Copper Moon begins with an ending in the title track and ends with a new beginning in "New Moon of the 7th Sun." In between, Freund visits commitment phobia ("C'est La Vie"), the walk-out ("Leavin' Town"), the "just friends" thing ("Babysitter") and the heartbreaker ("October Girl").

Throughout, the arrangements are stunning. "Copper Moon" features a keening, ethereal lap steel part by Wallflower Ben Peeler around Freund's painterly acoustic guitar. "Mercury" is a subversively affecting assemblage of Rolling Stones conceits. "Run Like That" is perky, Petty-like, and Oscar-timely: "Take the man in the movies / He's got two hours to do his show / He's gotta get the girl, get the loot, all before sunrise / And make it to Mexico." You don't have to run like that, so why not enjoy an evening in Freund's company?

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