The 5th Annual Middletown Music Festival, August 5-7 @ Middlesex Community College, 100 Training Hill Road, Middletown, CT
– JEFF PRZECH
Jeff Przech likes to tell stories. Musical stories. “My favorite songwriters, the ones I always gravitate towards, are the ones who tell great stories in their songs.” Influenced by contemporary artists like Jason Isbell, Ryan Adams, and Sturgill Simpson, along with classic artists like Kristofferson, Jennings, and Dylan, Przech’s 2015 debut release, “Sounds Like Fresh,” is his first, though certainly not last entry into the canon of Americana music. The record is carried by classic songwriting and led by Przech’s deep, soulful vocals and acoustic guitar work. Many of the arrangements are sparse, but never wanting for more. Przech’s vocals and guitar are more than enough to carry songs like “Back Again” and “Wasting Time.” On the other hand, Przech’s arrangements on songs like “Clinchfield Rail,” “Eden,” and “Make A Wrong Thing Right” feature dazzling lead work by Jon Graboff (pedal steel), Dennis Fancher (lead guitar), and Przech himself. It’s perfectly clear that Przech knew exactly what he was going for on his first record, a collection of songs that takes the listener on, as one reviewer called it, a “rewarding emotional journey.”
Behind the ten original songs (along with a cover of Adams’ “English Girls Approximately”) that make up “Sounds Like Fresh” is Przech himself. Born and raised in Hartford, Connecticut, Przech began writing in high school though, as he says now with a laugh, “My earliest attempts at songwriting make me cringe.” While he dabbled in music during his college years in Boston, Przech didn’t start playing professionally until his late 20’s, late in the game by today’s standards. He spent several years playing in cover bands, gigging throughout New England and, while constantly writing through those years, his own songs took a backseat to the other projects he was involved in. Ultimately, Przech felt a need to do something more to satisfy the artist within. He took his life experiences and his years as a Creative Writing teacher and applied them to his music, painting musical portraits with his songs. As Przech describes it, “There’s an element of me in all of my songs. Some more than others of course. I like to borrow a phrase from Kris Kristofferson to describe them: ‘Partly truth and partly fiction.’ They’re not all about me or my life per se, but I’m in all of them so to speak. They’re all honest though, and I always hope people will be struck by the stories and the characters within them.” Those characters are people we all know, even if we’ve never actually met them, and they share a vulnerability as they search for a way to make sense of the world they live in.
“Przech is as Americana as they come and it’s not a dirty word to throw the country moniker around when describing this album. If Przech’s influences were trees he’d have an entire orchard full of some of the greats of the traditional and alt-country movements, as well as varying forms of folk and Americana.”
“People ask me all the time what kind of music I play,” says Przech, “and it’s a tough question to answer. Chris Robinson once said, ‘I’m a folk singer. I sing songs for folks.’ But I classify myself as an Americana artist because that’s the music I identify with the most. That’s where the artists I respect the most reside. Even guys like Kristofferson, Waylon, Merle, even Dylan, they’d all fit into that genre today.” Przech spent the summer of 2015 bringing his form of Americana music from Vermont to the Carolinas, and was a featured performer at the Podunk Bluegrass Festival, the New England Acoustic Music Festival as well as the Keene Music Festival in New Hampshire. Przech has also enjoyed successful shows at great venues like Infinity Hall in Norfolk, Connecticut and The Bitter End in New York City, and shared the stage with fellow songwriters like Shawn Mullins and Pat McGee. As one venue owner put it, “Jeff Przech is one of those artists that you hear in a room and you have to stop what you are doing. You stand there with drink in hand…or set it down because you don’t want to be disturbed and you just take it all in.”
“‘Sounds Like Fresh’ relies on classic songwriting that shoots straight for the heart. It’s pure with its intention and leaves little question as to what we might expect from Przech in the future.”
The most important aspect of Przech’s songwriting, and of Przech himself, is the authenticity. There is a distinct lack of pretense in everything he does and his intentions are as true as some of the stories he tells. Przech is humble and unassuming with a dry sense of humor, evidenced by the title of his record – ‘Przech’ actually does rhyme with ‘fresh.’ Now proudly calling the small town of Unionville, Connecticut home (“I love the peace I get living here,” he says, “it’s the right place to write the kind of songs I do.”). And those songs have not gone unnoticed, receiving excellent reviews and airplay on WPLR, WESU, and WAPJ in Connecticut as well as internet radio stations and podcasts throughout the country from Connecticut to Washington.
“‘Sounds Like Fresh’ is more than a clever title meant to explain the pronunciation of ‘Przech.’ In a world where so many artists are employing marketing gimmicks and studio tricks, vying for the next big spotlight in the music scene, Jeff Przech makes it abundantly clear that’s he’s here to do one thing, and that’s make great music.”
Jeff Przech is many things. He is a songwriter, troubadour, a bit of a raconteur, and most importantly, a single father. “It all starts and ends there, man, with those two,” says Przech, referring to his two young children, who both make cameos on his record. He understands struggle and his life experiences shape his songwriting, which is always very true with its intentions. He wants his songs to make people think and feel. Przech’s music is an ideal union of the classic sound he so admires and the modern Americana genre. Whether he is playing with his newly formed band, The Outfit, or just by himself with an acoustic guitar, Przech’s dusty, resonant baritone provide a weight to his songs and lyrics. While the songs may be ‘partly truth, partly fiction,’ Jeff Przech is not. There is an unquestioned sincerity to the man and his music. “There’s a line in one of my songs,” says Przech, “All I can do is all I can do. That’s pretty much the way I look at it. I put everything I have into what I write and record. If it doesn’t mean something to me, how can I expect it to mean something to anyone else?”
“Without music, life would be a mistake.”