It was during the recording of what would go on to become Dom Fricot’s upcoming album Deserts, that he stopped to reflect. The record was going well, the dreary Vancouver winter was giving way to the warm glow of the coming summer, and life should have been great. So why was he gripped by depression? Why couldn’t he get out of bed in the morning? Dom took to the internet and googled the date of his father’s death, a fact he’d always attempted to forget. He then realised it was 16 years ago to the very day, his father had passed away following an aortic aneurysm. Sixteen years, that for 32 year old Dom was suddenly half a life time ago.
Deserts, the follow up to Dom’s 2014 debut long-player Sweet Little Fantasy, is in many ways an album about death, and yet, not an album about grief. Dom’s first forays into songwriting came from a place of therapy, as a way of challenging his frustration, pain and negativity following the untimely loss of his parents within three years of each other. Many years later though, Deserts is an album that reflects on loss with the distance and healing that time can provide. On “Echoes”, the album’s first single, Dom reflects on how his father was also his soccer coach, and how that was wonderful and frustrating in equal measures. On “Measure Up”, Dom compares his life to his father’s, looking at their contrasting lives, and being amazed that his father had re-located to Canada, built a house and had two kids by the time he was Dom’s age, while in his own words Dom struggles to hold down a, “real job”.
Whilst unquestionably his most emotionally mature work to date, Deserts is equally his most musically inquisitive. Recorded in Vancouver with producer David Vertesi, the writing process was a quiet revolution. Searching for a way to push his music forward, Dom stepped away from the somewhat clichéd songwriter trope of acoustic guitars, and set about writing a record using just Rhodes keyboards, vocal loops, and processed beats. This process continued into the studio, where alongside Vertesi, co-producer Andrew Rasmussen and engineer Daniel Klenner, they recorded an album free of live-drums, free of guitars, and packed full of new ideas. It’s an album that builds around crunching, processed beats, slinky pop-laden synths and emotive waves of classical strings, all accompanying Dom’s rich, understated baritone.
The resulting record is his most focused and ambitious to date, and one that marks Dom out as the antithesis of just another singer-songwriter. It brings to mind the widescreen, melodic pop of Peter Gabriel or Phil Collins, and fuses it with the influence of more modern songwriters from Bon Iver to Sufjan Stevens.
Deserts is the record that Dom’s previous output has hinted that he could achieve. His well received debut EP, If Baby Could Walk, saw him pick up awards, high-profile festival slots and local cult-fame. While 2014’s Sweet Little Fantasy saw him touring Europe and as well as becoming a regular fixture on Canadian radio, with the single “I Miss The 80’s” spending eight weeks on CBC Radio 2’s Top 20 chart. Alongside his solo career, Dom has also been making waves in his other musical-project, The Folk Road Show, whose harmony driven work has drawn comparisons with Crosby, Still, Nash & Young and Fleet Foxes, and with their rigorous touring schedule, simply goes to highlight what a hard-working and talented musician Dom Fricot is.
On Deserts, Dom Fricot is truly showcasing the man behind the music; emotional, funny, and with the spirit of a story-teller and the vision of an artist – a songwriter with the world at his feet, and the desire to explore every inch of it.