A lot of musicians have a side job that inspires songs. Usually we hear about the mundaneness of a crappy side-gig, but that's not the case with Fraser Teeple's debut release. An arborist by day, Teeple's songs are timeless stories about love and misadventure that he formed while cutting trees in British Columbia and Ontario. The narrator of "Folsom Prison" probably saw Johnny Cash play, while "Believe in Love" could just as easily be about a modern romance as one that happened decades ago — and likewise for the relationship in "Dusklight."
Hired Saw is a sparse folk record built on the basics — an acoustic guitar and a harmonica, mostly — but Teeple's textured voice fills the spaces left by the minimal instrumentation. His voice is loud enough to rise above the din of a busy bar, but at times creaks with a country drawl. Teeple sounds as if he's singing with a cigarette in his mouth, or maybe after a night drinking the cheap whiskey mentioned in "Something About Her." In any case, Teeple's vocals ensure that Hired Saw is worth a good, close listen. (Independent)