Ghosttowns And Kingdoms


Ghosttowns and Kingdoms




“Fred Haring’s debut CD is something to notice. On an independent label, Haring has managed top-notch production, packaging and writing. His style is in the Americana vein, with slide guitars, violins, mandolins and raspy low-key vocals. With a booming bass voice and a casual snarl, Haring sings songs of hope, faith and mercy set amidst dilapidated buildings, fatherless children and seeming hopelessness. But alongside the deeply serious material you see a terrific sense of humor. “County Cliche” tells the story of a broken up relationship that has taken on a Hatfield/McCoy sort of absurdity. Taken as a whole, Ghosttowns And Kingdoms may be the coolest indy Americana debut since Vigilantes Of Love’s Jugular.”
John J. Thompson, TrueTunes

“With the help of several central Ohio musicians, Columbus singer, songwriter and instrumentalist Fred Haring recorded some great songs in a 5th Ave studio last year. He calls the collection Ghosttowns and Kingdoms. In a soulful, James McMurtry-style road-weariness, Haring sings heartland rock tunes about “government checks and Chevrolet wrecks” (Hey Joe Carter). He also offers a few get-some-religion workouts (Descending Like A Dove, Alcoholic Anonymous, and Where To Begin) and twangy numbers built with acoustic guitars, mandolins, cellos and fiddles (Blessings in Disguise and Country Cliche). All 11 tunes are crisp and beautiful, and concern tangible objects cloaked in a lovely metaphor. The lilting ambience of (you said) Trust Is Just a 4-Letter Word, for one, drops the pulse to that carefree pace where anything seems possible. The clickety-clack, polyrhythmic Wear White to My Funeral, with its slave-song sing-along refrain (“Jump down, turn around, pick a bale of cotton”), is a four-minute feast of social commentary. A soul-searching piece of work, Ghosttowns and Kingdoms proves Haring has traced and retraced the routes in his skull a few times.”
Columbus Dispatch

“Also quite wonderful is the indie debut from Fred Haring, Ghosttowns and Kingdoms (Grandma Katherine’s Music). As a songwriter, Haring insists on staying near the edges of things–the gutters, the broken, the glorious, joyful poor–crafting meditations that are remarkable for their unswerving hope and good humor. The “least of these” appear in almost every song, yet the disc manages to avoid becoming one of “those” peace and justice records that too many of us own for their sentiment rather than their quality. Haring avoids this, in large measure, by keeping things intimate, rather than preachy (is anybody listening???), his voice and spirit cracking throughout. Musically, this is what the critics like to call “neo-folk” or “new country”–simple, guitar-based songs that sound as good in a coffee shop or the front porch. In fact, there are all sorts of hints of mountain music–of the laid-back variety–throughout. A genuine find.”
Dwight Ozard
PRISM Magazine

“First let me say that although I was slow to come aboard the Fred Train…..I AM NOW “ON BOARD!!!!!!!” The video for “funeral” kicked me in the teeth!!! I loved it and am airing it in heavy rotation on our TV show!!!! I have also readded the single in recurrent play on our radio outreach.”
Pastor Samme Palermo
WITR – Rochester, NY

“Very talented…a great writer”
Dan Posthuma, Word Records

“a brilliant album…and that’s not something I say very often.”
Bill Mallonee, Vigilantes of Love

“RATING: 3 Stars I love country music, especially if it’s a bit folky and old-timey as opposed to 99% of what comes out of Nashville these days. So I was pleased to discover this 1997 release from Fred Haring entitled “Ghosttowns and Kingdoms.” A gifted songwriter, his best songs like “Alcoholic Anonymous” tell interesting stories and yet never get bogged down in typical folk conventions. This is a record that obviously has some rock influences, and sometimes even strays into rock territory (“Hey Joe Carter” is the rockiest, a song about not distinguishing people just by their skin color). Musically, the CD packs a lot of punches. There’s some great finger-picking on “Descending like a Dove” – a softspoken ballad that could pass for a Bob Dylan song with better singing (of course). “Where White to my Funeral” features splendid female harmonies, and the country send-up “Country Cliche” is a good romp on banjo that exposes just about every country convention known to man. The haunting “Book of Many Colors” is the best song here, with its mixture of guitar and fiddle amid finely crafted lyrics. “Could I be your one and only, because you are my only one” he sings to God, an ode that we have probably all felt: that it’s amazing to think that God actually singles us out and wants to commune with us on a personal level. Look for a new release from Haring soon. But until then, if you like tinges of folk and country in your music with personal, honest testimonies about how God is working in our lives, check this one out.”
John Brandon

“The CD is fantastic…it’s great. I kept it in my office and it played constantly for about a month, then I took it home to play when I was hammering out a bunch of data input…and my 14-year-old daughter has adopted you as the next Tom Petty, and she plays it all the time, too. So I guess that you don’t really need a song by song review if a 14-year-old likes it… and her tastes are Edwin McCain, Wallflowers, Petty, Dave Matthews, Matchbox 20, lots of alternative… Thanks for the CD…Now if I can only get it back from her…”
Burr Datz
Washington and Lee University

“I’ve been living with your CD for awhile now – great stuff. Being the music marketing type person that I am, I of course had to categorize it as “sounding like” other artists, if you know what I mean … so, here’s what I came up with… it’s a cross between Paul Simon’s Graceland, Matthew Sweet’s 100% Fun, with touches of Cat Stevens and Dave Mathews vocally. And I was also thinking to myself that the CD was created at the intersection of Country, World, and Americana.”
Kirby Trapolino
Grassroots Distribution

“different…cool stuff..!”
Andy Man, WWCD 101

“very creative…”
Michael B, RadioU

“A good album..!”
Rob Reinhart, Acoustic Cafe

“With gentle acoustic strumming giving way to cutting electric guitar, Fred Haring’s “Hey Joe Carter” moves beyond the polite folk realm into a vibrant, edgy folk-rock territory that suits the song’s honest and direct lyrical slant.”