Early Press Quotes


Having a batch of songs that “were definitely burning a hole in my pocket” caused singer-songwriter Tom Freund to step on the pedal and make the new East Of Lincoln, whose title track premieres exclusively below. And the album, which comes out Sept. 7, means more to Freund than just clearing out the musical cupboard.

“I write out of necessity pretty much,” Freund tells Billboard. “I think I did these songs as a personal healing process.” Healing from what? “Oh God — that’s a long list,” he says with a laugh. “It’s everything. There’s relationships. There’s people who have passed on around me. There’s a very frantic, insane world right now; It seems like everyone is in the most frantic state I’ve ever seen, and I try to wade in and make sense of it through songs.”

Freund chronicles one of those issues in the gentle, rootsy “East Of Lincoln.” Coming out of a piece commissioned but not used for Netflix’s Flaked, it features Freund singing about the changes to Venice, Calif., where he resided. “It’s a theme to, like, my California experience, a Venice lost,” says Freund, a New York native whose resume also includes playing bass for the Silos as well as working with Jackson Browne, Elvis Costello and others. “Venice was such a cool place, and it became something really different. It got overrun and SnapChat and Google moved in and it got very corporate. It’s very cheesy and people were getting booted out along with the kind of real-deal Venice. So it’s me waving goodbye, rearview mirror style.” Freund has also filmed a video for the song.

Freund co-produced the 11-song East Of Lincoln with Sejo Navajas (Vintage Trouble, Gabrielle Wortman). Longtime buddy Ben Harper contributing to a pair of tracks and Freund is joined by Foo Fighters’ Rami Jaffe and a batch of session luminaries. He has a few shows on the books now and is hoping to add more around the album’s release.

Meanwhile, he’s also ensconced in writing songs for Amazon’s Pete The Cat, an animated show set to debut this fall that features Costello singing the opening theme song while others — including Dave Matthews, Diana Krall, Jason Mraz and K.T. Tunstall — have recorded some of Freund’s songs for the series. “It’s a kid’s show and it’s animated, but it’s very cool,” Freund says. “The writing is a lot different for TV, but it’s been a lot of fun. It’s not the brooding thing I do on my own; It’s got to be bang-bang-bang and not a lot of time to fuss over things. But to have Dave Matthews come in and do a song I wrote and say, ‘You have a nice voice,’ I was tripping out. The Elvis thing meant a lot, too, and Diana Krall. Then KT Tunstall and I got to do some jamming in the studio. It’s been great. I can’t wait for people to hear this stuff.”


Those not in L.A. could be forgiven for mistaking the title track to Freund’s new record for being about Omaha, Neb. But, no, east of Lincoln in this song is about the border boulevard in Venice, Calif., and he’s bemoaning a township overrun by tech money.

The longtime Angeleno earned early attention in the 1990s through work with Ben Harper — who makes an appearance on “East of Lincoln” — and has, over the course of his musical life, worked with artists including the Silos, Jackson Browne and Graham Parker.

A West Coast country rock song true and true, “East of Lincoln” is set as its narrator is exiting Venice to the sound of guitar and mandolin, likely priced out by the monied winners buying up the former hippie haven. “As I go east of Lincoln/I feel my heart start sinkin’,” Freund sings, bemoaning the loss before declaring, “Now I know I’m no saint/But I know when something is good and when it ain’t.” He tells of drinking, of seeing the sunset in the rearview mirror — “and the ocean swirls are just a glimmer.”

Fans of roots-oriented artists such as Tom Petty, Townes Van Zandt and Lucinda Williams will find much to explore on “East of Lincoln” — which is more important than ever now that Google’s got Venice covered.