Published Sep 30, 2016Erica Freas' co-leading role with Mattie Jo Canino just about defines RVIVR, the pair's earnest and heartfelt melodic punk band from Olympia, WA, but it's also clear from her talent and presence that she could just as effectively carry the band on her own. Unfortunately, her new album, Patient Ones, shows that while Freas is a skilful singer and songwriter, it does take a bit more magic to make a laudable solo album.
Patient Ones is her second full-length studio album following 2012's similar effort Belly. Fans will probably recognize "Goodbyes" from her band's Bicker and Breathe EP, and "Silver" from her collaborative project SOMNIA. The rest are originals, and while the songs tend to have sturdy skeletons — helped by Freas' characteristically thoughtful and meaningful lyricism — there's not enough substance here to make them full-bodied.
There are moments when the album takes a more living, breathing form — "The Sea Around Us," "Please Go Walk in the Rain" and "Quinn," aided by guest cellist Jen Grady, as well as the lovely, tender closer "City" — but they don't shake the feeling that all of this could be more compelling with a fuller sound. There's too much strumming, too little else. In a sense, Patient Ones is sort of punk-minded in its execution, though it's a trait that doesn't do many favours to a soloist wielding only an acoustic guitar and still playing it as if it's an electric.
That being said, if you consider that Freas' last album featured songs that would later be essential cuts from RVIVR's superb The Beauty Between, it's reasonable to expect to hear some Patient Ones tracks on whatever comes next for the band. And if that's the case, these songs would get a proper chance to shine. (Don Giovanni)