Guitarist, singer-songwriter, and producer Freddie Nelson has long learned how to cultivate his time in the spotlight into something more.
Nelson grew up to play his first professional show at the age of 11. He progressed on to work as a musician in numerous established bands in the Pittsburgh area, including famed east coast hard rock band Triple X. In 2001, he stepped up and became the front man to the rock band Too Tall Jones with Rusted Root bassist Patrick Norman. Too Tall Jones released 2001’s Bipolar, an eclectic mix of rock songs that gained the attention of virtuoso guitarist Paul Gilbert (of Racer X and Mr. Big). This lead to a collaboration with the renowned guitarist on the album United States. The two teamed up to write, perform, and produce the recording that was released on Mascot Records and later toured Japan and Europe together shortly after.
After the acclaim of United States, Nelson began gathering up enough material for his solo work. In 2015, he began writing and recording songs for Shake The Cage. During this time, Nelson was enlisted by Paul Gilbert to once again help him with the recording process with Gilbert’s solo endeavor I Can Destroy, produced by Kevin Shirley. Due to the course of these recording sessions in Los Angeles, Nelson met with widely acclaimed drummer Thomas Lang, who after giving Nelson’s solo material a listen, signed up his skills as a drummer for the project.
The long awaited Shake The Cage opens up with the head-turning track “Turn You On.” There is some pitter-patter as the band sets the stage up for something dynamic to happen. Nelson’s signature trademark of a classic rock vibe melds itself into this hard rocking quality with a great jam session that seamless produces some rollicking fun and thrilling sounds. The invigorating, gigantic guitar riffs on this track upholds the manta “I want to turn you on” with a grainy sort of sound reverberating on this guitar heavy song.
The album slows down with the track “Hey Doll,” gifting a more down-tempo sort of atmospheric vibe. Nelson really coos and works on the vocals here, belting out the lyrics over a wall of interweaving guitars, drums that keep up with the steady rhythms, and a dynamic bassline.
Listeners will sink into the radio-active sound on this rock-worthy ballad.
“Light” has a more quirky sound to it, eliciting a catchier beat to the overall melodic ballad. The light-hearted track emblazes with vocals sung with vigor. The guitars on this rollicking rock track really have a life of their own. The great sound has a slight nostalgic bent to it as it explores the light that may encompass each of us.
On “Keep Running” this gritty track riffs off some dark and somber vibes. The haunting, slower pacing to this song acts off of explosive guitar riffs. The layer of guitars sound off with an electric guitar solo that will upliftingly reel you in.
“Never Fight Alone” emanates a groovy Motown feel. Brimming with a melodic, more upbeat and catchy rock tune, the great rock cadence is an anthem bent toward the fight for good music.
“My Girl” is a boastful track, a fun-loving anthem that is definitely a sonic blast. Frenzied guitars and amped keys make for a dynamite sound that wafts in, highlighting Nelson’s warm and enthused vocals.
The grounded great rock vibe emitting from the following track “Let You Go,” has an aspiring alternative air to it. The melodic and catchy vibe coming off this song makes it an out-right anthem. There is a graininess to the sound-recording, giving the reverb-filled vocals a tinge of echoing quality. The great drumming beat alternates from the heavy guitars and drums to include some engaging sounds from the percussions. Fiery vocals and the ferociousness of the drumming beat make for an urgent sound. In addition, Nelson sings with enthused fervor, adding a little drama to the distinct harmonies.
“The Show” uncovers ambient electric guitars as the strumming beat of the acoustic guitar adds in to the rhythmic pulse of the overall track. Be sure to turn on your lighters to this trance-inducing ballad. Its steady and mesmerizing atmospheric energy and heart-felt, warm vocals will enlighten audiences. With heavy backing on electric guitar and drums, this lovely sound will really beckon to listeners.
Nelson continues to showcase with methodical ease his loud range of edgy guitars on the gargantuan track buffered by an enthused performance on the keyboards, soaring vocals, and interlocking weaving guitars, “All Night Long,” the intermingling of harmonic-packed vocals and intricate guitars to make the dream-like and hazy sound really strike in “Monster In My Room,” and the energetic and buoyant harmonies on reverberating guitars emerging with a melodic refrain on the last track, “For Those Who Die.”
Listeners will drink up this rock-enthused album. With something for everyone on these 11 tracks, from all-night revelries to many a celebratory event, this album covers an intermingling of rock-out anthems and melancholy-driven ballads. Combining the rock energies of Thomas Lang (drums) and Nina Sainator (piano, keyboards), together they make up the crew that is Freddie Nelson’s band.
In Shake The Cage, Nelson really shakes up things with his music. This is obvious in the track, “Never Fight Alone,” where he asks those in the audience to pool together their efforts in a call to fight for good music to be produced other than what is being played on the radio. The title to the record is like a talisman, with Nelson continuing to rattle principles and preconceived notions one may have of music with his unique sound and style that is all his own.
Behind the pitch to the album moniker, Nelson says, “The record is called Shake The Cage, because I feel that a lot of music has become one dimensional with tools such as pitch correction and formulated songwriting. There is no substitute for hard work and honing your craft, and it’s time to challenge mediocrity.”
The album was mixed by Rob Hill of X Music Studios in Los Angeles, CA and was mastered by Maz Murad at Metropolis in London, England. 7.7/10
Shake The Cage was released July 7th.