Reviews/Feedback on "Small Town News"

Reviews/Feedback on "Passion Angel"

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Review: Amy Fradon - Small Town News
by Andrew Hobbs
Hi Fi Plus Magazine 12/03

These days female singer/songwriters pour out of the woodwork with alarming regularity. A fair few are pretty average, some are pretty good and some are plain bloody marvellous (check out Jann Arden, Beth Hart and Trish Murphy for examples of the latter.)

Amy Fradon's not a new kid on the block. She released six albums when she was working as a duo with Leslie Ritter, and Small Town News follows hard on the heels of her debut solo album Passion Angel, released to much critical acclaim in 1999. On the strength of Small Town News it's quite easy to see why the press have been championing her cause. What we have here is an album of mainly self-penned tunes covering a wide variety of musical bases; country, blues, folk, (contemporary not traditional) and breezy jazz are all present in the mix, and she nails every style down with a voice of crystalline purity. The backing is mainly acoustic and all the musicians play their part beautifully. It's hard to pick a favourite track because each song oozes its own peculiar charm, but special mention has to go to "Silver Wings", a touching tribute to the band's Rick Danko.

Small Town News is a fine album and should go a long way towards introducing this talented artist to a much wider audience.

Review: Small Town News
Dirty Linen Magazine 12/03

In a sea of singer/songwriters, folk hopefuls, and major label wannabes, Amy Fradon stands out as a truly unique, independant musician. Steeped in the Woodstock, NY subculture that she first emerged in as part of the duo Amy and Leslie, Fradon, on her second solo album, experiments with a variety of styles, which showcase her wide range of musical interests. On, "Come What May", Fradon employs Native American style arrangements and vocals, while she adopts a classical hootenany approach to Phil Ochs' "What's That I Hear?". "Silver Wings" is a loving tribute to the late Band member and friend Rick Danko, and "Liliy and Billy" tells a tale of small-town lives, as does the album's final track. On "Behind Closed Eyes" and especially "Magic Moonbeam Motel", she sounds very mch like prime-period Maria Muldaur. Elsewhere, on songs such as "Hambone" and "Nevessa", Fradon demonstrates that she can srtut funky, while still being able to ignite a torch ballad in her beautiful rendition of the classic "Let It Be Me". Fradon even tries her hand at a banjo-framed spiritual in "The Burning Tree", and a high-harmonized love song called "The Flowers Still Bloom". Of all these good tunes, Fradon may have written a real gem in "Do Remember Me", which draws on "Wild Mountain Thyme" as musical inspiration for one of her lovliest sets of lyrics and vocals.

Review: Small Town News
by Pete Smith: Rock Pile
Country Music Round Up/ UK

Amy Fradon is the offspring of two illustrators and cartoonist. Dana and Ramona found fame with the New Yorker magazine and Marvel comics whilst their daughter is finding fame as one of the most creative songwriters in the genre called "Americana". Amy, though probably not too well-known in the UK, is no newcomer to the business. Since 1990 she has been involved in a dozen recording prejects, six as duo partner with Leslie Ritter, one as a member of the Vanaver Caravan, featured soloist on the Gathering Sun and a meditation cassette. In 1996 a very limited number of cassettes "the Bootleg: Amy Fradon Live" hit the scene and three years later "Passion Angel" became Amy's first solo CD. "Small Town News" is a stunning new album from a lady wise beyond her years in things musical, possessing of a compelling voice and marvelous talent for turning the ordinary into something beautiful through her writings. The album has a largely folksy feel, understandable from someone who spends a considerable time paying tribute to Woody Guthrie, yet there is so much room for the country fan. Take for instance "Magic Moonbeam Motel", probably as near to dancing as Amy will take you, "Hambone", a country blues with a beat, "The Burning Tree", just voice and banjo giving it a mountain feel, and the most beautiful version of "Let It Be Me" (a duet with Tim Moore) I have heard to date. "Silver Wings", Do Remember Me" and "Small Town News" will tear your heart out. Fourteen magnificant performances in all.

Review: Small Town News
Pete Smith: Sounds Country
The Advertiser/ UK 6/27/03

Over the last 12 years Amy Fradon has established herself as one of the leading exponents of Americana, initially as a duo with Leslie Ritter and then in her own right.

And yet it was all unintentional. As a kid her voice attracted attention and while at University in New York she appeared at the Rathskeller Coffeehouse just for the hell of it.

That was it. Amy was on her way to critical acclaim.

A dozen albums down the road, Amy has released Small Town News-second solo offering- which is a compelling collection of 12 original songs plus two covers.

Amy's stunning voice is showcased throughout but particularly on the tender "Silver Wings"-written for the Bands' Rick Danko- the up-tempo country ballad "Magic Moonbeam Motel" and the mountain influenced "The Burning Tree", featuring just the voice and Artie Traums' banjo.

Try as I might, I could not select just one favourite, being drawn again and again to "Let It Be Me"-a duet with Tim Moore-"Small Town News" and "What's That I Hear?"- a late Phil Ochs composition.

Summer 2003 Vol. 47#2
Sing Out!

Amy Fradon has a pair of leather lungs enabling her to belt out a song like few other singers. And she has an acute sense of melody that makes her songs interesting and gives them a heavy contemporary folk/ pop feel.

Formerly partners with Leslie Ritter- the duo Amy and Leslie split in 1995- Amy has since built a band and an eclectic repertoire. This is Amy's second solo CD, following up on the successful Passion Angel. Small Town News is strong on harmonies, with Amy frequently harmonizing with herself. The album's sound is further strengthened by supporting instrumentation-bass, drums, mandolin and guitars.

The heart of this album is Amy¹s belief that small town life enables her to think globally while being effective in acting locally. She says that many of her songs sprang from watching her friends and neighbors in the Woodstock area of New York.

included in this CD is Phil Ochs' "What's That I Hear?" and Felice and Boudleaux Bryants' "Let It Be Me". The other 12 songs are Amy's. She sings of small town people, love, hamboning, flowers and trees. Whatever the topic, the lyrics are clear and penetrating.

This is a CD that you will play often. Recommended.

Spotlight Artist July 2003
Country Music Round Up

Amy Fradon is the offspring of two illustrators and cartoonist. Dana and Brenda found fame with the New Yorker magazine and Marvel comics whilst their daughter is finding fame as one the most creative singer / writers in the genre called Americana. Amy, though probably not too well known in the UK, is no newcomer to the business. Since 1990 she has been involved in a dozen recording projects, six as duo partner with Leslie Ritter, one as a member of Vanaver Caravan, featured soloist on The Gathering Sun and a meditation cassette. In 1996 a very limited number of cassettes, The Bootleg Amy Fradon Live hit the scene and three years later Passion Angel became Amy's first solo CD. Small Town News is a stunning new album from a young lady wise beyond her years in things musical, possessing of a compelling voice and a marvellous talent for turning the ordinary into something beautiful through her writings. The album has a, largely, folksy feel, understandable from someone who spends a considerable time paying tribute to Woody Guthrie, yet there is so much for the country fan. Take for instance Magic Moonbeam, probably as near to dancing as Amy will take you, Hambone, a country blues with a beat, The Burning Tree, just voice and banjo giving it a mountain feel, and the most beautiful version of Let It Be Me (a duet with Tim Moore) I have heard to date. Silver Wings, Do Remember and Small Town News will tear your heart out. 14 magnificent performances in all.

Review by Pete Smith

Amy Fradon
Small Town News
Leo Rising Records

Amy Fradon is well known as one of the Hudson Valley's favorite voices, a popular singer/songwriter, and former member of the well-known duo Amy & Leslie, with Leslie Ritter. Her new release Small Town News, produced by John Platania and Amy Fradon, also features some of the region's finest singers and instrumentalists, including Tim Moore on piano and guitar, Ken McGloin on guitar, Mark Murphy on bass and cello, Gary Burke on drums, and John Kirk on mandolin. On a few cuts they are joined by bluesman Guy Davis and even Artie Traum on banjo. Fradon's trademark multiple part harmony vocals are carried by the exceptional voices of Amanda Rothenberg and Vickie Russel.

If you didn't know this wonderful singer/songwriter and were handed this CD it might strike you as if it was a testament of an egomaniac. Full page head-shot pictures of the artist adorn four of the six panels of the foldout CD sleeve, creating the impression, well, that here is someone really full of herself. Quite the contrary! A few times I had to explain to skeptics that, if anything, Amy Fradon is the opposite, down to earth and perhaps even a bit insecure about herself and her talents. Indeed, the essence of this album is a milestone of the singer as she has seemingly found her inner peace and stride. Fradon has come to terms with her place in the music world, fleeting stardom and the merits of music for music's sake. After decades of gliding along the periphery of potential and well-deserved large-scale success in the folk-music business, waiting for the acceptance from a tight knit music establishment that never quite fully embraced her, Fradon delivers a musical statements - equal parts autobiographical as it is sentimental and forlorn. The musical vignettes and sketches in Small Town News are introspective statements that are at the core existentialist, but that bring resolution, an inner peace and realization, a place of comfort and balance. This record is an outstanding collection of beautiful music- truly superb songs that touch you in a soft spot. Small Town News is simply lovely, moving and delightful, even soothing- just what people need today, more than ever. If you listen to the lyrics of this album you may find yourself in the same place as the artist.

Some will say she's too sweet and beautiful to be cool in a world where the offbeat and quirky, the trendy and the flavor of the day prevail. To that I say, "How can anything be too sweet and beautiful?" Fradon's voice is simply breathtaking. It is not coincidental that she is one of the most beloved singers in the region, with a large and loyal fan base who are devoted to her powerful, angelic voice, harmony vocal arrangements and passionate performances. It is they who ask how the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will relegate our best regional artists to an occasional two-song showcase every five years or so, while lesser artists who are somehow perceived to be in vogue get top billing. But, as the song lyric says She's small town news. She's everybody's sweetheart. She's everybody's rose.

Mine for sure!

-- Country and Abroad Magazine, Frank Matheis

Taconic Newspapers
A record with a smile

"Amy Fradon should be extremely proud of her first solo effort," says Frank Matheis.

Ann Fradon
Passion Angel
Leo Rising 1999

OK. I admit it. I love Amy Fradon's music and I I am slightly guilty of carrying a favorable predisposition to this artist and her new CD. I've been pushing her to put out this CD every time I've seen her over the past few years. But, it's OK, because changes are you were looking forward to this just as much, and she's probably earned your favorable bias too. It is high time to finally get the solo CD by Amy Fradon, Hudson Valley's favorite daughter, and, here at last, it was worth the wait. Amy Fradon's everybody's musical darling and her musical roots in this reguon are deep and strong from years of winning over people one by one to build a loyal fan base. Whrever Fradon, simply known by everyone as "Amy," appears around here, audiences know and love her. Fradon's longtime partnership as "Amy and Leslie" with Leslie Ritter brought them high up on the national Americana charts, and ascended them even higher into hearts of local audiences. I first met the two when they performed at the annual 1992 Amenia Peace Festival where everyone was awed at the immense power of their vocal duo. Then, I heard Amy Fradon solo when she astonished everybody during a showcase at the 1997 Falcon Ridge Folk Festival by bringing the daytime outside audience to total silence with a mesmerizing a cappella song that left everyone gasping for air. Wow, that woman has some power.

Amy Fradon is a natural, donw-home folk singer who doesn't just sing her heat out. She puts in the very essence of her entire being with a beautiful, larger-than-life voice. She lifts you straingt up into a higher plane where a mere song can become a truly moving, spiritual experience. This album, her first solo effort after a long duet-partnership, and alo her debut as a producer, is a testament to her wonderful songwriting and a joyous anfare of vocal harmonies. She is surrounded by some of the best musicians around, all great friends, for an intimate, musical celebration.

"Passion Angel" is a well-balanced album and Fraon was wise ti put forth a solo effort that reflects her own true spirit. Whereas she is perosnally joyous, always with a smile and on a quest for healing and spiritual enlightenment, this comes through in her record without falling through the trap-door of "New Age" music-- which this is thankfully not. It is, however, a record with a warm smile on it's face. The ket to Fraond's music is her disposition for beautiful harmonines and musical honesty. She keeps things neat and simple. No pompous airs and frivolous crinolines. Nothing here intended to "oooh" and "aaah" to impress or dazzle you, just because "it's expected." This record is about an artist expressing her feelings and the CD will make you "feel" it too. Fraon knows that the road to commercial success is hard. She's been arouund the blick. She said: "I made a record that was my true musical heart. That's all I can do. I can't think about whether it will succeed or fail commercially. I have to love it, and after much work, now I do. I am at peace with it. This is my record." This is a position we should respect immensely. Art of art's sake, not too heavy and not too light.

Lots of good musicians join her. The lovely voice of backing singer Amanda Rothenberg works so well with Fradon's, as this young and talented singer shines bright in her "apprenticeship" with Amy Fradon. We expect great things from Rothenberg in the future, but first we better let her finish high school. Tim Moore is exquisite on guitar. Mark Murphy, ever versatile and fluid, alternates from bass to Pyschedelic Cello (which I assume contrasts with a plain old, conservative and square cello). Ken McGloin, who we know as a swing guitarist, plays bass real well too. Neil Eisenberg coaxes a sweeter sound from the Hammond B2 organ. On some songs even more people, like the superb guitarist John Platania sit in. On "She loved Moses" the entire Woodstock assembly was called out as Gary Burke, Rick Danko, Jay Unger (here he is on mandolin, whereas you know him best for his fiddle on tunes like "Ashokan Waltz") join in, as does John Sebastion on harmonica. This record, soon to be owned by millions of Hudson Valley fans, is filled with real gems, outstanding songs that speak right to the heart. Amy has done us proud!

The Times Herald Record
November 5, 1999
Local album of the week:
Amy Fradon - "Passion Angel"
(Leo Rising):

If you've never heard the magical music of Ulster County's Amy Fradon, hustle on over to Bodle's Opera House in Chester Sunday night and pick up her new album, "Passion Angel."

Fradon has a voice as sweet as sunshine glinting off morning dew. She writes songs that can be as down-home as the title of one of her tunes, "Friday Night at the Famous Dancemore" about people who "write with courage from the bottle." Yet she also can sound evocative and ethereal with a song about "oceans (that) lick white sands."

Set that voice and lyrics to music that includes haunting Celtic dance rhythms, traditional folk, rollicking rock and a bit of fiddlin' country and swinging jazz, and "Passion Angel" is a jewel.

Stephen Israel

Country Music International
Amy Fradon
Passion Angels
(Leo Rising LEO 100)

Amy Fradon, an exquisite singer-sonqwrrter, delivers a modern folk-pop record with definite :ountry overtones. This is her solo debut after a ten-year career with her singer-songwriting partner of ten years, Leslie Ritter. The pair recorded half-a-dozen albums together and toured extensively before deciding to go their separate ways. For Amy the separation has been something of an artistic release as she spreads her wings and flies on this is a haunting collection of introspective vignettes and moods.

She wrote all of the songs with the exception of Come Home, which she adapts from the traditional hymn sometimes referred to as Softly And Tenderly. The Famous Dancemore is like a rural postcard of a story about the many relationships forged in an old-time dance hall. You can almost hear Fradon smile as she wraps her distinctive voice around the song's detailed cinematic lyrtcs. Her ability to engulf the listener in her story telling comes through again on Find A Way To Fly, with Lisa Gutkin's fiddle adding pathos and the floating harmony of Amanda Rothenberg fleshing out the lyrical tale of enforced separation.

Helpless Again is a lovely pop ballad, which rides a wonderful contrast between poignance and romance, the haunting and moving Angel Moon and the folk-rock waltz of Purci's Faith, is the kind of material that is not overpowering and may take a second listen, but has definite country appeal. A self-produced effort, she is joined by regular musos Tim Moore, Gary Burke and Ken McGloin with special guests John Platania, Neil Eisenberg, Artie Traum, Jay Ungar and John Sebastian witn Lucy Kaplansky and Rick Danko adding backing vocals. The players amplify the singer-songwriter's warm, folk-like melodies with elusive shadows and bas-reliefs throughout.

Alan Cackett

Sing Out!
Amy Fradon
Passion Angel
Leo Rising 100

Amy Fradon and Leslie Ritter have risen from the ashes of their once strong musical duo to release CDs at virtually the same time. They made a good team in the I987-1995 period but they were very different in musical tastes and styles. Amy Fradon is the lively, adventurous, leather- lunged performer who thrives performing solo or with her band and testing her wings against winds of great strength. Passion Angel is a tour de force. Amy wrote all of the 14 songs. There are fast numbers, slow songs, mysterious songs ("Long Black Coat") and even a sonc about Moses. The diversity is riveting as you listen to the lyrics from flrst song to last. Amy's voice is relatively high-pitched. very distinctive, and her enunciation is superb. She can convey the meaning of all of these songs without the listener gaining much from reading the liner notes. I find myself leaning forward, listening as if Amy were in my living room. Amy produced the album herself, which is often the kiss of death. It is extremely difficult for a performer to know when the best take has been recorded, when the best songs have been selected, when the supporting musicians have been appropriately used, and when her own voice can or should be used as a backing vocal. This album escapes all of those potential pitfalls. Passion Angel is one of the very best folk-pop albums to be produced in 1999. It has the songs and the musicians to make it interesting through repeated listenings. Recommended highly. - VKH

Dirty Linen

Amy Fradon, many will remember, was one half of the upstate New York duo Amy & Leslie, and this is her first solo album. Combining a slightly country-tinged folk with a powerful, expressive voice, Fradon is also a natural-born storyteller. Songs such as "Purci's Faith," "Find a Way to Fly," and "The Famous Dancemore" have a timeless quality and one would not be surprised to hear that they were traditional Americana. They are not; they are just Fradon's newest self-penned jewels. Her songwriting is, in this way, very similar to the finest songs of Robbie Robertson, so it's no wonder that fellow Band member Rick Danko joined Fradon on the-gospel-tinged "She Loved Moses." On the more energetic tunes, such as "Rock Me Now" and "Passion Angel," Fradon can let it rip with a curious hybrid of two parts Aretha Franklin soul to one part Maria McKee howl. Joined on select tracks by some of upstate New York's musical elite, such as Artie Traum, Jay Ungar, Molly Mason, and John Sebastian, Fradon has gathered around her a core of excellent musicians, including the ever versatile Mark Murphy's multi-instrumentation and Amanda Rothenberg’s sympa- thetic backing vocals. This is the breakthrough album of an artist finally fully emerged.

- Lahri Bond (Amherst, MA)

Reviews from

Beautiful voice and powerful lyrics
April 9, 2001
Reviewer: Sarah Lewis

I am addicted to the album "Take Me Home" by Amy Fradon and Leslie Ritter. I was a little concerned that I might never find anything so good, but I'm happy to report that Amy Fradon has created a marvelous debut solo album with "Passion Angel." I listen to this album several times a week and it never gets old. The lyrics are varied between songs but are always heart-felt. Several of the songs are sad (Find A Way To Fly, Purci's Faith), some are particularly fun (The Famouse Dancemore, Fat Cat), and the rest are equally satisfying. I especially enjoy Come Home for its spiritual feel. This album is most notable for Amy's beautiful voice, which makes gives the songs a quiet intensity.

fan and former student of amy fradon
August 9, 2000
Reviewer: noneofyourbusiness

Amy is by far one of the most talented singers/songwriters in the Hudson Valiey and has taken peoples breath away with her angelic and passionate voice, folk music's a cd you simply must try

New Listener
July 31, 2000
Reviewer: Music Lover

What can Isay but "Wow" that will fully describe my feelings about Amy Fradon's album "Passion Angels." To be honest I am not the biggest fan of Folk music out there but this album certainly struck a chord with me. The spell binding rhythms as well as the pure angelic qualities of Amy's voice sent chills from my fingers down to my toes. I absolutely love this album, I would suggest it to any fan of Folk music or even those who aren't. Pick this album up, it is truly an expenence.

Passion Angel sung by an Angel
July 18, 2000
Reviewer: A music fan

Listening to Passion Angel is a spiritual experience, only equalled to seeing Amy Fradon live. The music makes you feel lifted and connected, to both Amy and yourself

Taconic Weekend
Best Picks Around and About Dutchess
Dec. 30-Jan. 5, 2000

Frank's Picks/Year in Review
Best of '99

One of the Hudson Valley's favorite daughters. and most beloved voices is Amy Fradon.

Best Debut Record
Amy Fradon
"Passion Angel"
Leo Rising
(In Amy's case it's a solo debut)

Best Regionally Produced Record
Amy Fradon
"Passion Angel"
Leo Rising

Subject: Great album!
Date: Wed. 20 Oct 1999,20.44:46 -0700
From: Walt Graham
To: Amy Fradon

Hi Amy,

I'm just listening to you new album -- it's wonderful!!

I like to play local artists because I want to support them if the music fits my format. But Passion Angel is a standout among ALL the albums I've received lately...beautifully written songs about a wide range of subjects supported by fine musicianship. You can't ask for more than that.

Congratulations and keep up the good work


Walt Graham
WSHU/WSUF AcousticConnections

Subject: GREAT MUSIC!!
Date: Sun. 12 Mar 2000 00:11:01 —0500
From: "Robert Singer"
To: "sf_folk"

We just got home from Pete Rimmel's House Concert featuring Amy Fradon and band (Ken on guitar, Mark on bass, Amanda and Vicki on harmonies).

For those who did not attend, you REALLY missed a fabulous concert)

This was one of the best concerts (not just house concerts - but CONCERTS) I have EVER attended! The harmonies, the music all was astounding. They virtually received an ovation after eacn and every song! Sometimes I felt I was watching a ping pong match. I would be watching Amy then all of a sudden - beautiful harmony, and my eyes would shift to Amanda and Vicki, then Ken would do some amazing guitar work or Mark would do something wonderful on the bass - My eyes kept bouncing all over the stage n amazement. Everybody I spoke to walked away with the same feelings we had. This is Amy's first trip down here since she was a headliner at the SFFF, 4 years ago

She will be at Luna Star 730pm for a special Sunday night appearance. If there is any way you have an hour or two available Sunday night, you should see Amy, you won't be disappointed - you will only be disappointed if you have to wait YEARS to see her.

I just heard her minutes ago and cant wait until tomorrow night!!!! We might oe a little late, so someone please save us two seats - up front - PLEASE!


Various quick quotations

"Amy Fradon has a silky, almost ethereal voice. Her songs are unusual, beautiful and often magical... and onstage she is charming and personable."
-- Ellen Dunkel, The Bergen Record

"Anywhere from Enya to Kate Bush, Amy is one of the great voices."
-- Koch International England

"Forget Rondstad, forget (dare I say) Smokey even. As dazzling as Fradon's vocal chops can be, it was her sheer emotional intensity that made my jaw drop..."
-- The Woodstock Times

"I've heard about 400 shows here, but Amy is something special; She's wonderful!"
-- John Whitley, The Turning Point

"... A versatile talent, Amy is a singer/songwriter who can be powerful or simply charming."
-- Alan Cackett, Kent Messenger U.K.

"Amy is simply sensational. I see her on a par with Shawn Colvin and Suzanne Vega. In my opinion, she's got what it takes."
-- Phil Ciganer, Towne Crier Cafe

"One of America's Great voices."
-- Ed Sanders (the Fugs)