Words: Dan Murroni
The curtain rises to a scene familiar to any other American tale: A hard-working young man in the south of Pennsylvania makes an earnest living at a local Salvation Army, passing idle time doodling peculiar characters and writing introspective music. He begins working and touring with a well-known band, keeping him away from the comforts of a healthy home. Finally settling down with family in a small New Jersey township, the musical result of his dedication begins to materialize. A work he’s proud to call his own. Such is the story of John Andrews, who’s bounced around enough to know the definition of homesick. And Bit By The Fang is the outcome of that very journey.
Recorded not in a studio but modestly in his grandparents’ living room, Bit By The Fang takes on a warm sound that’s rightfully genuine and down to earth. The instrumentation is comfortably thorough and reflective of John’s rural surroundings: glistening honky-tonk piano most notably in “I’ll Go To Your Funeral (If You Go To Mine)”, lazy country pickin’ in “Hear Me Out”, and soulful organ in “Trouble (Yapes)”. The protagonist in Bit By The Fang is not a happy one however; lyrically he’s lost, confused, and heart-broken. “I found trouble when I was lookin’ for you,” the character frets, presumably about the mysterious and sly Judy mentioned throughout the album. But there’s a bit of bittersweet solace in his immediate surroundings (one familiar to The Grey Estates): “Pennsylvanian rivers are as deep as they are wide, rollin’ down the Turnpike with something on my mind.”
Bit By The Fang is indeed an authentic fable craftily written into song. Blending an earnest story with sound is a concept as old as time but has been lost to a desire for immediate gratification. John’s debut album has instead been aged in the style of a Kentucky Bourbon: in the work for years but readily potent and satisfying. You can now experience John Andrews’ artistry for yourself through the purveyors of folk, Woodsist, where Bit By The Fang is now available on vinyl record.