Ian Fitzgerald
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Ian Fitzgerald

Providence, RI | Established. Jan 01, 2006 | SELF

Providence, RI | SELF
Established on Jan, 2006
Solo Folk Acoustic

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Very much in the mould of the American folk singer a la Dylan and Van Zandt, Ian Fitzgerald stands lean and moody on his album cover and this is reflected in his songs, lean, sparse, tales of love, loss with a poet's touch. Recorded over four days in Connecticut with Fitzgerald singing and playing guitar he's accompanied by bass player Brian Battles and Eric Lichter who provides guitars, pedal steel, accordion and drums. Courtney Gallagher provides a female vocal foil on some of the selections. Together they create a warm and intimate sound that is reminiscent of the early Townes Van Zandt albums.

Fitzgerald has a fine way with his lyrics ( "If the river rose she could have swum like John the Baptist/Or Mary as a mermaid of the sea" and "The afternoon arrows, the sanctified sermons both cut through the dust on Main Street") and he delivers them with a worn and almost deadpan delivery. The duets with Gallagher provoke the best performances with Fitzgerald's song Galveston standing out. The One On The Black Horse is another excellent performance and perhaps the one that best captures Fitzgerald's debt to Van Zandt with some dark and brooding blues guitar licks and a wheezing accordion adding colour to the lengthy and mysterious tale of a conquistador and his fatal attraction. Whether it be Fitzgerald solo, strumming his guitar and singing gently or the band adding just the right amount of ornamentation all of the songs here are a cut above your run of the mill singer/songwriter. Well recommended. - americanaUK


Opening with songs like "Something To Remember Me By" and "Let's Go Down To Memphis," Ian Fitzgerald successfully follows a golden road laid by many folk singer/songwriters over the years, including Bob Welch, Hank Williams and Bob Dylan.
The production is stellar on this record, and the quality of instrumentation by Ian's backing band is superior. The arrangements are also beautifully orchestrated. It's great to gear harmony vocals by fellow member Courtney Gallagher done so pristinely.
The upright bass featured on standout tracks such as "A Place For You To Sleep" and "When Nellie Fell" by Brian Battles provides great warmth and percussive balance. Eric Lichter also provides gorgeous sounds on archtop, pedal steel and acoustic guitars.
The album of ten songs is chock-full of great folk and ballad-like standards, with lyrics that are freely sung with heart and a devotion towards celebrating the magic and history of the greats of the folk scene.
Fitzgerald is a polished songsmith who is high atop a field of great artists breaking through to festivals and folk concerts throughout the States, and with his touring schedule set for the rest of 2013, many new fans will be converted. He is a tender songwriter who composes with a flair and golden heart, seeking out faith over all obstacles and the burning flame of hope; his songs really take you on a journey. A highly enjoyable album, No Time To Be Tender is not to be missed.
-Shawn M. Haney - Performer Magazine


There is an underlying familiarity to Ian Fitzgerald‘s music.

The elements of Fitzgerald’s style and the manner in which he works – utilizing the individual threads of traditional folk as a cornerstone on which his immense creativity builds – generates an intensely wondrous and engaging tapestry, thick with interwoven allegory and symbolism yet grounded in the subtleness of a soft-spoken songwriter.

So, what is his style, his natural and intrinsic spirit – his Grecian pneuma?

Ian writes with a beautiful and elegant simplicity (unlike this author). His sounds evoke an historical tranquility, and send a perfect polyphony of harmony, understanding, and comfort, pulsing throughout the veins of musician & listener alike.

I highly recommend considering this unassumingly quiet and bearded fellow’s music. You will be able to find him endlessly touring around the Northeast, if you’re not in the NE try Bandcamp or his personal website.

And now you know. - Paisley Tunes


ian fitzgerald no time to be tenderNo Time to Be Tender is stripped down, understated brilliance. Ian Fitzgerald has a familiar, warm voice that is eerily reminiscent of the Nashville Skyline, John Wesley Harding era of Bob Dylan. The harmonic synergy between Fitzgerald and Courtney Gallagher is stunning and the arrangements are sparse yet perfectly adequate, breathing a majestic quality to Fitzgerald's beautifully written stories about love, loss, illusion and disillusionment. The songs here are so good it will take many well spent hours listening to them just to figure out how good. One of our favorites of the year so far! - The Alternate Root


Ian Fitzgerald is a songwriter and folk storyteller (not a phrase I use lightly, and respect wholeheartedly) from the Boston area. As a songwriter, he has mastered the craft of presenting vivid narratives that truly draw you in and make you just feel good about what you are hearing. When listening to this record, I found myself on MANY more than one occasion [per song] feeling like I wish I had come up with 90% of the lines in his writing. Ian truly sticks to the heart and soul of songwriting and where the art originated, creating well thought out, clever, and for lack of better word, kick-ass tunes.
As track 1 (Something to Remember me by) launches, I immediately get that “This guy loves Bob Dylan” feeling from the song, but delving in further there is much, much more to Ian Fitzgerald and after track 2 starts, I immediately get that “this guy is my new favorite songwriter” feeling. I mean, I am sure he loves and has a high opinion of Dylan, but his work encompasses so much more. You can tell he has honed his skills over years of listening, playing, and frenetically writing about everything he has come across. I have heard a lot of records that come out of Dirt Floor studios, but this is by far my favorite thus far. A lot of the works have Erik Lichter’s distinct stamp on them, and while he adds some impressive instrumentation to it, I really see the collaboration between Erik and Ian here and I think that’s a pretty great thing. Fitzgerald weaves his way through songs evoking feelings of sorrow, pain and perseverance with a road weary, gruff vocal and natural break. There are a also ton of great harmonies on the record as Ian and his female vocal counterpart Courtney Gallagher, play off each other in a truly beautiful, but intensely powerful manner.
My personal favorite track is ‘Galveston’, a haunting walk along a dusty road of recollection and regret of things loved and lost. Beautiful harmonies, a slow churning acoustic rhythm, plowed along with a melodic verse. There are few songs that touch me in a deep emotional way, but something about this track nearly brought me to tears somewhere around Charles/MGH on my way into work this morning. The follow up track, ‘Melinda Down the Line’, is reminiscent of the male equivalent of Gillian Welch in Fitzgerald’s tone, inflection and the sonic quality of the tune. And trust me, that’s a damn good thing! It’s a bit more upbeat, with a driving guitar backed by some fine picking with really great flourishes and feel. A fun tune for sure, and reflects Fitzgerald’s ability to write in a variety of tempos, feelings, and styles while remaining true to his folk roots. He harkens back to the days of great storytellers in the folk genre, a skill that is often lost on a lot guys (and gals) toting acoustic guitars around town.
She lifts up her head from the blanket-less bed / says “I hope you know what a pal you’ve been”
Like love was a handshake, or worse a mistake / and she wished she never left Galveston
This was one of my hardest records to review in my, so far, short lived music review writing career. As much as I tried and tried, it’s really hard to put descriptive phrases and words to a work by a guy who uses descriptive phrases and words so well. Regardless, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this and put it on the old iPod for later. I have a feeling that I will be getting a lost of use out of this record and checking Ian out live soon (by the way…Hey Ian, want to put some gigs together soon?).The entire 10 song work is one incredible song after another. Do yourself a huge favor and check out Ian. - Red Line Roots


A trio of songwriting sets mark the night at Blue. That affair starts at 6 with the earnest acoustic folker JAMES DAY LEAVITT, whose songs, as first heard on the debut album recorded at Ron Harrity’s Forest City Studio, reflect delicately on his intimate life experiences. He’s followed by the New England-traveling Americana guitarist IAN FITZGERALD, whose Elvis Costello-tinted country-folk is anchored by his ability to turn a phrase. SAMUEL JAMES — who I hear really brought it in last week’s 48 Hour Music Festival — and DANA GROSS finish up the night with a set at 10 pm. - Portland Phoenix


Listen to most any song by North Attleboro native Ian Fitzgerald and the first thing to grab you might be his sheer mastery of phonetics. Tightly rhymed syllables snake their way through verses to the point where unpacking the sounds in these phrases becomes a prerequisite for unpacking their latent meaning. Still, it’s a challenge well worth the effort: akll that lyrical density affords the songs a number of spins before they finally reveal their full meaning in sum.

At 24, Fitzgerald is a bona fide folkster, so the emphasis on lyrical content comes as no surprise. His songs have a twang to them, with his sound flashing the influence of both Dylan and alt-country rockers. Fitzgerald performs his live act solo, which is also unsurprising.

With lackadaisical guitar strumming and nonchalant singing, he manages to cut to the essence of his act--that is, the barebones presentation of his masterful songwriting. And though he has used band arrangements for his two studio albums---2005’s Torn Up Routes and this year’s Former Glory--the full sound never obstructs the central quality of the songs: the words, and their delivery through Fitzgerald’s stern, tight-mouthed drawl.

The songs on Former Glory are brimming with shining, dark images and unexpected metaphors, all enmeshed in Fitzgerald’s trademark phonetic maze. It would be enough for Fitzgerald to be a master at just one of these things--either the imagery or the trickster wordplay--but, lucky for us, he is equally adept at both.

For instance, try to wrap your vocal cords around this set of lyrics from "Concrete Mirror": "You curse worse than murder / your words works in circles / Stairs spiral in your eyes / and I’m spinning still." Fitzgerald is not the first songwriter to cram together "curse" and "worse", but rare is the singer who can execute a tongue-twister while keeping such a firm hold on the description he is conveying. And then there are the lines that introduce the album-starter, "Idle Hands," foreshadowing Former Glory’s theme of desperation, complemented by Fitzgerald’s knack for strange and unsettling imagery: "Things are getting ugly but at least we’re not alone / There’s money in the marrow if you’d only break your bones."

Despite his wonderfully abundant descriptions of things and places--gunsmoke, thievery and geography all make recurrent appearances on Former Glory--many of these songs, at their root, concern the central theme of the singer-songwriter: human relationships. Every few songs, we hear a casual remark about missing someone far away, or laying one’s head in another’s hands. It’s nearly impossible to piece together the ins and outs of the relationhship, but it’s probably for the best that we never do. These mere hints of love (or friendship) provide just enough grounding to allow the record to spin off into the unreal dream worlds of imagery that are the true strengths of Fitzgerald’s writing. And all the vagueness allows us to wonder to whom excatly Fitzgerald is referring in "The Ruins" when he sings: "They said they couldn’t see your face among the ancient ruins / But give me one more morning / And i can show it to them."

To be sure, there are a few songs on Former Glory that are just a bit too packed with words and instruments. "Emma Brown" sees Fitzgaerld spitting eight-note syllables while trying to keep up with a lilting mandolin accompaniment, and the chorus tempo always seems one step away from leaving the singer in the dust.

And had the nine-minute album-closer "Someone Else’s Secrets" been recorded as a solo piece, it would have been no less gripping. If anything, the presentation would have kept the distractions of the accompaniment at a minimum (like in his live act), and put the focus back on the songwriting itself. In the end, though, it really makes little difference: it’s the writing that carries Former Glory, and with songs this great, it’s nearly impossible not to notice

-Josh Lerner


originally published 03.22.07 - College Hill Independent


After taking three full passes at the new Ian Fitzgerald CD Former Glory, I came away with only one certainty... I can’t quite put my finger on this guy. Is he laureate or jokerman? Genius or put-on? Rather than stopping at simply emulating Bob Dylan’s nasally vocally delivery, he also seems to carry on the poet’s tradition of confusing the over-inquisitive listener, who insists on asking who-what-where-why almost always in vain. What is not in doubt is Fitzgerald’s keen sense of wordplay, which is evident throughout the eleven tracks on Former Glory.

Much of the album’s lyrical content consists of doleful and dark imagery. "There’s money in the marrow if you’d only break your bones - Like in tales of ancient heroes who burned angels for their gasoline blood." This sardonic streak runs somewhat contradictory to Fitzgerald’s hilarious and often self-effacing biographical and web site content. He writes: "With zero critical acclaim and just as much audience interest...Former Glory feels like the wordiest recording since Johnny Cash released his audio book version of the New Testament." Now that’s hilarious. And, in many ways, reminiscent of a self deprecating streak artists like John Lennon or Bob Dylan would often show in just about every situation except their recordings. And like those two examples, he perhaps does so as an insecurity of sorts, possibly self-conscious of the truly imposing lyrics he’s assembled throughout. Then again, armchair psychology is way above my paygrade, so we move on...

Let us not lose site of Ian Fitzgerald’s strong suit - the songs. Granted, many of the arrangements are sometimes annoyingly derivative of Dylan circa ’72-’75. But at a mere 24 years old, it’s admirable that he clearly takes much inspiration from such a lofty artist. Some standout tracks include "The Thin Line at Midnight" which includes the lines: "Don Juan pawns off responsibility for his role in the death of courtly love." Now to go back and illustrate that humor mentioned earlier, Fitzgerald’s homepage includes the following Q&A entry:

Q: Why do you mention Courtney Love in one of your songs? A: Since none of my songs contain references to the Cobain widow and former Hole frontwoman, I can only assume you misheard the words..."

At the risk of repeating myself, THAT’S funny! However there’s little levity in the text that accompanies tracks like "Emma Brown": "Even the gentlest breeze can blow a body down - There’s a cabin in the valley where they buried Emma Brown... Napoleon and Josephine are setting wedding dates - For the citizens of prison camps whose love has been delayed."

As I’m often to say, it is only for lack of space that I don’t continue citing the great examples of young Ian Fitzgerald’s writings. I sincerely hope that as this budding artist begins to develop and find his own voice, he will treat us to many more releases, exploring avenues not even thought of on Former Glory. Frankly, we could use him.

-Don DiMuccio - Motif Magazine


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

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Bio

Ian Fitzgerald is a folk singer and songwriter. Based in New England, Ian has toured throughout the United States. Ian has
independently released four albums of original material and has become
known for his storytelling and skillful use of language. In their
review of his latest album, No Time To Be Tender [2013], Performer
Magazine called Ian "a polished songsmith who is high atop a field of
great artists breaking through to festival and folk concerts throughout
the States."

Ian has opened shows for Iris DeMent; Willy Mason;
Mark Erelli; Tracy Grammer; The Ballroom Thieves; Joe Fletcher; Tall
Tall Trees; Vandaveer; Ark Life; Parsonsfield; and Freedy Johnston,
among others, and has shared bills with the likes of Haunt The House;
Christopher Paul Stelling; Ron Gallo; and Jonah Tolchin. Ian has also
performed at a number of notable festivals and venues including: the
2016 and 2015 Newport Folk Festivals; 2014 All Newport's Eve (the
official kickoff show for the 2014 Newport Folk Festival); NXNE; the
Falcon Ridge Folk Festival Emerging Artist Showcase; the Brown
University Folk Festival; the In The Dead of Winter Festival; the
Columbus Theatre; World Cafe Live at the Queen; and Infinity Music Hall.

Band Members