Review Summary: "I never got all the way off the ground"
It would be safe to say that 2009 was the roughest year of my life. In September I received the news that one of my best friends had been killed in a car accident, and just three months later my aunt passed away when I was on my way for a last visit. Both instances had put me in a place I had never experienced to this magnitude before; turning to music as an antidote. It was at the second funeral that I sat quietly to myself, thinking not of that funeral alone, but both. As I sat there in distressed reflection, John Frusciante’s Anne
was pulsating through my head; each of John’s lyrics hitting me harder than the last. It wasn’t even that the song was entirely relevant. It was my thought that Frusciante had felt every word, every strum of his guitar, and every note he hit on his electric. There is something to be said about the effect that music has, even when the song isn’t being heard directly.
“And these are the times I was scared of, and these are the fates that I pushed out of the way. Now they come back to haunt me. It’s plain to see who the winner and loser will be.”
If John Frusciante’s stretch of five separate releases in 2004 indicated anything, it was that the man was ridiculously prolific and effective. With few exceptions, each record was as intricately developed and emotive as the previous one, placing Frusciante at the upper-echelon of modern musicians. John’s lone 2005 release, “Curtains” has been raved about by Frusciante enthusiasts since the day it came out, and rightfully so. Considerably more mellow than “A Sphere in the Heart of Silence” and “Inside of Emptiness,” “Curtains” is essentially John’s acoustic record. Although an immensely talented guitar player, Frusciante never relied on this electric leads much in his solo work, instead packing a powerful punch with lyricism and poignant vocals. “Curtains” is certainly no different in this respect, and actually features some of John’s most notorious songwriting.
If songs were referred to as magnum opuses like albums are, John Frusciante’s would be Anne
. Whether or not John had attempted to create this track as his masterpiece is unclear, but what is clear is that the song never loses its oomph. Most amazingly, the track appears to be in utter shambles following its introduction; a broken structure, in which would not be out of place on either of Frusciante’s heroin albums, and would baffle most rock listeners. It is however, the recovery that positions Anne
head and shoulders above the rest, from John’s quiver of “Nothing is final because…” to the conclusion. The climax is staggering, for everything from Frusciante’s inconsolable lyrics to the flawlessly fitting guitar solo is incredible. Very few times in my life have I encountered such a track that time and time again, blows me away.
While seemingly nothing else on the record seems to come to the magnitude of Anne
, that track in particular is the elite type of track that is featured on every spectacular album. Luckily however, Anne’s
supporting cast is pretty damn effective. As indicated previously, “Curtains” has a much more subdued feel than even “The Will to Death” and is sustained by acoustic guitar, backing vocals, piano, and the occasional unorthodox effects. John’s vocals are just as brilliant as they have been since “To Record Only Water for Ten Days,” easily shifting to either end of the spectrum, and jam packed with emotion. Opener The Past Recedes
plays the role of tone setter, with its relaxed ambience and accordion thrown into the mix. The following tracks seem to easily follow suit, with a few unexpected twists to be encountered. Not unlike Anne
features a very unconventional song structure, quickly varying in decibel levels, and building up only so it can be immediately calmed.
The one-two punch of Time Tonight
and Leap Your Bar
are only an appropriate close for such an extravagant album; neither lacking in inspiration nor impact. The former is a delicate track, driven by a terrific piano melody and John’s falsetto. Time Tonight
builds to something greater in its final moments, highlighted by Frusciante’s shrieks of “Why, is there no one in my life?” Time Tonight
only increases the dramatic effect of piano ballad Leap Your Bar
, whose heart-wrenching vocals seem to overshadow much of the record. “Life is so sad, life is so sad,” sings John. The lyrics aren’t ultimately the selling point however, for it is the way that they are conveyed that delivers the final blow.
“Curtains” is not John Frusciante’s greatest album (slight edge given to Shadows), but has everything that exemplifies the musician, and most importantly the person that he is. Almost everyone that knows anything about the ex-Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist understands what the man went through in the mid-1990’s, but many do not recognize Frusciante as the true hero that he is. Ever since his escape from the horrific heroin-fueled depression, John’s music has facilitated his re-discovery of happiness and a purpose. This pertains not only to him, but for others as well. When they really need it.
The Past Recedes
Leap Your Bar