For all the griping indie artists do about the economics and logistics of the consumer friendly streaming era, there’s no denying the leveling of the playing field – and the magic that fans of unique, eclectic music can experience now that those artists aren’t limited by major label gatekeepers whose priorities aren’t grounded in great art.
Multi-talented jazz-swing leaning singer/songwriter J. Frederic Millea, who began his colorful musical journey by writing his first song in a bathtub in the early 90s, offers a colorful example of the kind of quirky, fun, insightful and delightful music we can wrap our hearts and brains around now as opposed to the 90s, when he penned his first “mini-movies” and songs offering true “poetry in motion.”
Two plus decades after learning that some bigwig A&R guys and label presidents said he’d never get signed, Millea – now doing his freewheeling artsy, adventurous creative business as L.A. Cowboy – splashes our senses with The Big Pitch, a playful, high spirited, soulful and swinging debut album for the ages created, appropriately enough, with a vibrant four piece rhythm section and six piece horn ensemble collectively known as The Hiplomats.
As it rolls along from the lively, lovelorn “Stories to Tell” through the punchy, finger-snappy journey of “Flyover Land” and on through the reflective, post breakup bittersweetness of “Why Do I?”, we slowly absorb L.A. Cowboy’s freshly rendered, sometimes philosophical, often satirical or tongue in cheek, narratives connected to the messy art of trying to make it as a creative force in Los Angeles.
As the slightly off center but always engaging and emotionally touching offbeat autobiography romps along, we’re treated along the way to some of the tough feedback and advice way back when (“Angels in L.A.”), an immersive visit with Van Gogh (“The Museum”) and a whimsical title track that anyone who’s ever given “The Big Pitch” to Hollywood producers will surely relate to. Now that he’s won us over with his highly musical and deeply poetic pitch, here’s hoping the cowboy ropes us into his unique reality with further rides in the future.