Home Free

Dan Fogelberg

Epic, 1972


REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert


Perhaps it was a fait accompli that Dan Fogelberg would become a musician. With a mother who was a trained classical pianist and a father who taught band at the high school level for many years, there were certainly a lot of genetic and family tendencies – so it’s no surprise that Irving Azoff discovered Fogelberg playing guitar in a coffeehouse in Illinois in 1971 and decided he had star potential. After session work with Van Morrison and others, Fogelberg released his debut album, my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Home Free.

While not an immediate chart or critical success, the album is an interesting indicator of where Fogelberg would go in his later career. Unlike a lot of artists, Fogelberg’s sound was already distinctive and fully-formed; his mix of country, folk, and wide-screen, string-laden arrangements may take a little getting used to, but there’s no denying its power on songs like “To The Morning.” On the other hand, many of the songs on Home Free are reminiscent of harmony-driven acts like Crosby Stills Nash and Young, especially “Wysteria” and “Looking For The Lady.” Somewhere in the middle is the Eagles-esque “Anyway I Love You,” and Fogelberg even skirts into full-on country/bluegrass on “More Than Ever”. Eventually, all these elements would mix into a more consistent and unique sound; for now, Home Free is Fogelberg finding his way and taking his first few musical steps.

Two songs deserve specific mention. “The River” is, by far, the best track on the CD; on it, Fogelberg spins a dark and foreboding tale of growing up in a stripped-down, spare voice reminiscent of Neil Young -- with the added bonus being that Fogelberg can actually sing. On the other hand, “Be On Your Way” is a huge disappointment, a track that proves to me that at this point in his career Fogelberg couldn’t tell “wistful” and “wimpy” apart. Finally, I add one caveat emptor for the musically obsessive; the CD release of Home Free is a drastically different album from the original vinyl release, having been completely remixed and rearranged. I can’t speak to the differences -- I only own the CD -- but be aware nevertheless.

Is Home Free a great album? No. It is, however, an interesting album, and as a bellwether for Fogelberg’s later career -- which I feel is sadly underappreciated -- it’s indicative of where he would eventually go.

Rating: B

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© 2008 Duke Egbert and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Epic, and is used for informational purposes only.