Like many people, I was introduced to Frank Fairfield when he opened for Fleet Foxes on their 2008 tour. Prior to taking the stage with his weathered acoustic guitar to play old-time folk-blues songs, he had posted flyers around the venue requesting complete silence during his set. The D.C. crowd generally ignored both his demand and his set, as well they should have with some justification: Seeking to revive an old custom, Fairfield forgot that silence must be earned, that it cannot be decreed as part of an act. It was perhaps not the best first impression of the California-based artist, who devotes himself to the practice and preservation of often obscure pre-rock styles. At times he comes across as a scholar rather than a singer: His self-titled debut had the scratchy atmosphere of an old 78 and the feel of an artifact found deep in a bin at some rural flea market.
Frank Fairfield / Unheard Of’s & Forgotten Abouts (TSQ2387 / 894807002387 / F13)