Aaron Free’s story has a sound reminiscent of so many past blues greats who filled the Delta with their somber tone. He moved around a lot, and during these travels began playing music in church, taking with him the vibrant sounds of towns he passed before landing here in Alexandria. Free began playing music early in his childhood. Naturally, he plucked around with his father Tim Free: a musician well acquainted with the ways of music and the stage. When asked about his own sound and his feelings behind it, Free stated, “I like things that sound natural. I don’t like processed effects and distortion and all that, it just muddies up the music to me. I like to keep things raw and natural.” When asked about his personal taste in music, Free lists Bob Dylan, experimental, and electronica as items he currently listens to. This eclectic taste in music is apparent when compared to the scape of mixed emotions in which Free delves with his newly released album entitled Galaxies.
The album, as well as Aaron’s live set, is a family affair which becomes truly admirable when one begins to notice the support structure subtly woven throughout. Aaron’s father accompanies his son on many of album’s finished tracks, as well as assisting with most live performances by playing lead guitar and piano. Tim Free is a man who seems to support his family in all their ventures, and this support shows throughout his family’s varied talents. Rounding out the trio of Frees involved with the live set is Aaron’s younger brother Tyler, playing a solid bass backing the bluesy tones. From the family on stage, to Aaron’s mother baking cupcakes and sincerely loving every single moment the music has to offer, one immediately gets the sense of a highly supportive family very proud of their own kind.
When asked specifically about Galaxies, Aaron stated the album to be “more of a journey through a concept, than a concept itself.” Piecing itself together throughout a span of over a year, the album was a selection of many songs written over the period. When asked why he chose the particular tracks which eventually became Galaxies, Free stated, “Those were the ones that stuck with me the most.” An answer which seemed to be a little too simple for an album so very complex, but I pushed no further with the question. Acknowledging the somber feel of Galaxies, Free also made clear his attempt to balance the album with uplifting themes as well. Free appeared highly concerned with the album being too down-trodden or low, and actively tried to balance the album’s “somber” theme with more upbeat tracks in order to create a well-rounded experience for the listener.
The unique sound of Aaron Free combined with the talent and support of his family is something I have both enjoyed and admired during the handful of occasions in which I’ve seen him perform. One can only imagine the perils that must accompany developing one’s own sound while falling beneath the shadow of so many other accomplished musicians, but Aaron sped past the struggles, well on his way to a style all his own. Aaron plays live regularly around Central Louisiana, and Galaxies will be available for purchase at these shows, as well as Hastings in the near future. The time has come for more music to move away from the fashionable noise that has developed out of so many terrible musical acts of the past, and move back to some realistic talent that can be admired, as much as enjoyed. Music needs to go back to the time when a twinge in a voice or the bend of a string meant something subtle or special, and nobody needed 10,000 watts to get their point across. Simple, unadorned, soul—that is the direction in which more artists need to go, and with Aaron Free, I smile at one more of the weathered few returning to the musical ways of old; back to the roots which made so much great American music possible.