Marvelous Clouds

Marvelous Clouds

by Aaron Freeman


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Marvelous Clouds

With Marvelous Clouds, Aaron Freeman's solo debut achieves the near impossible, sounding like both a totally logical continuation of his band of the previous two decades, Ween, as well as a massive and legitimate musical step forward. Known to his fans as "Gene Ween", the moniker he has performed under since 1984, Freeman takes his own name for the first time on Marvelous Clouds, covering 13 songs by '60s/'70s poet/crooner Rod McKuen. Freeman's enormous sense of pathos -- honed from two decades of songs that mixed funny voices with a deep sense of emotional hurt -- is on full display, McKuen's fragile schmaltziness transformed magically into an asset. Like 12 Golden Country Greats, Ween's Nashville album, Marvelous Clouds was produced by Freeman's New Jersey collaborator, Ben Vaughn. And, like 12 Golden Country Greats, Marvelous Clouds is miles from Ween's suburban hippie-punk roots, this time favoring a slick Los Angeles studio palette of string arrangements and airy synthesizers that wouldn't be out of place on Ween's lite-prog album, The Mollusk. And, where Ween can veer from genre to genre, Marvelous Clouds provides Freeman with a sustained mood, that -- while not capturing the full expressiveness of Freeman's elastic voice -- transmits a classic pop melancholy that suits the singer and the songs equally well. "I'm a man learning to live with memories of midnights that fell apart at dawn," Freeman sings on "A Man Alone," a track whose name was made for feature stories about a recently sober frontman striking it out on his own. The album is by turns playful ("One by One"), ornate ("Marvelous Clouds"), and even over the top ("The Lovers," which could almost be a Mountain Goats song in its dark, driving drama), but the sadness never quite dissipates. "I've never been able to push the clouds away by myself," Freeman declares at the end of a monologue delivered over squawking seagulls -- OK, maybe there's a little irony in his delivery -- "help me, please." But just because Freeman is still capable of a wink doesn't mean Marvelous Clouds is any less bleak in its outlook, redeeming in its performance, or powerful in its impact. A compelling and rich move toward adulthood from one of the underground's most prolonged and complicated adolescents.

Product Details

Release Date: 05/08/2012
Label: Partisan Records
UPC: 0720841210221
catalogNumber: 2102
Rank: 248959

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Aaron Freeman   Primary Artist,Guitar,Vocals
Paul Masvidal   Acoustic Guitar
Robert Peterson   Electric Bass,Upright Bass
Carl Byron   Piano,Celeste,Harpsichord,Wurlitzer
Kevin Jarvis   Percussion,Drums
Brandon Jay   Background Vocals
Lucas Cheadle   Electric Bass,Upright Bass
Ryan "Shmedly" Maynes   Organ,Guitar,Celeste,Harpsichord
Gwendolyn Jay   Background Vocals

Technical Credits

Ben Vaughn   Producer
Anita Kerr   Composer
Rod McKuen   Composer
Kevin Jarvis   Engineer
Alfonso Ródenas   Engineer
Ryan "Shmedly" Maynes   Orchestration
Zach Jaeger   Layout

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