Last week, I was invited to an advance listening session of Michael Bernard Fitzgerald’s upcoming indie rock album, I Wanna Make It With You.
As I walked into the Fairmont Hotel in Vancouver I had no idea what to expect. Before that night, I tried to research Michael Bernard Fitzgerald so I would have an idea of how the album listening session would go. I was stuck. Was this a solo act or a band? What was the genre of the artist? I listened to as much of his music as possible, but I could not solve the mystery of Michael Bernard Fitzgerald.
When I reached the second floor, I was greeted by someone named Andrew Ball. Later on, I discovered that he was the drummer for Michael Bernard Fitzgerald. As Ball led a group of us into the hotel room — where the listening session would take place — his upbeat personality created a casual atmosphere. It felt like hanging out with a group of friends. That sense of informality and intimacy was present throughout the entire experience.
As expected, Fitzgerald sang lead and played the guitar while Ball handled the percussion and occasionally sang harmonies. The unique and interesting element in this equation was Frankie Lemon on cello. Strings play a relevant part in Michael Bernard Fitzgerald’s music. To enhance the presence of strings, they contacted people online, and happened to find Lemon. The album listening session was the first time they all played together. We were watching an improvised performance that never felt muddled.
Fitzgerald’s voice was crisp and effortless. Every song felt authentic. The album did not seem to have a specific pace or style; each song seemed to be independent in meaning and serve an individual purpose. This quality reflects Fitzgerald’s statements about the songs in the album being open-ended.
According to him, no song is “wrapped up.” In between songs, Fitzgerald had the tendency to talk about the inspiration or personal story behind a particular song. For example, “A to Z” was created when a friend challenged him to write a song about the alphabet during a plane ride.
Clarifying my curiosity about whether Michael Bernard Fitzgerald was a solo act or a band, Ball told me that performances could range from Fitzgerald alone to a full orchestra depending on the occasion. This particular occasion was a small jam session.
Michael Bernard Fitzgerald’s versatile music reflects an ability to manipulate energy and atmosphere. There is a positive and personable quality to their music that occurs naturally. I am excited to hear the full album when it is released on March 11.