Friday found longtime Austin singer-songwriter Michael Fracasso at Strange Brew reconvening with guitarist Charlie Sexton, who produced a couple of records for Fracasso near the turn of the century. Along with ace bassist George Reiff and a solid recent recruit in drummer Ramy Antoun, Fracasso had a stronger support crew for presenting his songs live than he’s had in quite some time.
Opening with the brilliant melody of “Hospital” from 1998’s “World in a Drop of Water,” they moved on to many more selections from that album and the subsequent live set “Back to Oklahoma.” They also worked in a couple of covers, including Johnny Thunders’ “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory,” as Sexton shared vivid memories of once having dinner with the late New York Dolls guitarist: “I can still see his eyes almost falling out of his head onto the clam and hot spicy red sauce.”
Fracasso recalled the sessions for “World in a Drop of Water” with wonder: He’d lay down basic guitar and vocal tracks, then would leave the studio to allow Sexton to “make this whole symphonic record in my absence.” (To which Sexton humbly clarified: “junkyard symphonic.”)
Bluesier numbers such as “Elizabeth Lee” and “Devil’s Deal” didn’t play to Fracasso’s strengths as much as chamber-pop tunes including “Gold” and “Jar of Pennies,” which were better fits for the singer’s high-register vocals. The title track to “World in a Drop of Water” also stood out, in part for a lyrical Sexton guitar solo that underscored why he’s been a longtime presence in Bob Dylan’s band.
Fracasso has been working on a new record, “Here Come the Savages,” that’s tentatively due out in January of next year.