Highlights: As I Love My Own, Marvelous Clouds, The World I Used To Know
In the absence of a new Ween album (not even on the horizon, as far as I can see), Aaron Freeman’s solo album will do nicely. Or will it? Hard to say: Marvelous Clouds is actually a lovely, humble collection of country-esque (think “Chocolate Town”) songs written by a renowned American poet/songwriter Rod McKuen. It’s all very hummable, and there’s absolutely nothing to dislike about these songs, but I guess few will leave here satisfied: however lovely and hummable this is, we all wanted those glowing, creative originals.
Aaron Freeman (better known as Gene Ween) is a man of enormous talent and numerous voices. The primary vocalist of Ween, he has always seemed to me the quieter of the two (Moistboyz, “It’s Gonna Be A Long Night” – that’s all Dean’s work). So that the gentle, largely acoustic world of Marvelous Clouds makes perfect sense.
The songs? By turns cheerful and downbeat (loneliness is a popular theme here), they are simple, catchy, instantly likeable, toe-tapping delights. It’s all about tunes, of course, though you obviously can’t go wrong with the warm, lush instrumentation: there’s that banjo on “One By One”, harpsichord on “The Beautiful Strangers” – all wonderful touches. To give you some specific names, “Jean” is a gorgeous ballad, and both “As I Love My Own” and “The World I Used To Know” are perfectly singalongable pop-rockers. In fact, only the banal, spoken-word “Pushing The Clouds” sounds like a totally unnecessary throwaway. The rest is gold of valuable, if decidedly unpretentious sort.
You absolutely gotta be a cynic not to be charmed by Marvelous Clouds (perfect title, by the way). However, you gotta be a complete idiot to let Aaron get away with this. I don’t know; I’m still waiting.