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Saint Free fuses rockabilly grit with soulful reggae rock beats on 'Tussio' 

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On August 6, the Rochester-based multi-instrumentalist Bradley Freedman, aka Saint Free, will bring his album “Tussio” to the city’s airwaves. The artist’s sophomore release is a genre-bending record that teeters between comedy and tragedy.

As an expert in character study, Saint Free morphs into the figures represented in his songs with ease and confidence. In his promotional images for “Tussio,” he can be seen donning several costumes, sporting everything from BDSM chains and ropes to a cowboy hat and bandana. The theatrical nature of Saint Free’s persona only adds to the listener’s experience, providing visual context to his zany and jocular storytelling.

The first track on the album, “Beauty of All of This,” features rapid-fire guitar licks with an Americana edge. On this song, Freedman’s voice holds a rugged and gravelly tone reminiscent of skate punk bands like The Orwells.

As the guitar line revs up behind him, Saint Free delivers a raw commentary on romance and adolescence, shouting, “She was my first girl in the sixth grade / We held awkward, sweaty hands as we skated around that ice rink.”

While listeners may presume that “Tussio” is a standard coming-of-age indie record, Saint Free quickly proves that his songwriting knows no bounds. The second track, “Get on My Level,” moves the album into a new direction, incorporating a Sublime-style reggae beat that moves freely among an airy synth and electronic drums.

By the third track, it becomes clear that Saint Free does not wish to be contained within a certain stylistic mold or musical framework. In “My Country,” Freedman combines the banjo with a ramblin’-rodeo, Western-style guitar part as he sings out the words, “Bow chicka wow now / You burned my country to the ground / And while you keep on laughing / With your noose around my crown.” The combination of punchy, indie-rock drum parts with austere rockabilly guitar lines creates a sound that recalls the music of alt-Americana artist Shakey Graves.

On “Pizza Man,” Saint Free engages in a conversation with himself as extraterrestrial sounds whir on the keyboard behind him. Musically, the song sounds like it could fit in on any grunge-influenced indie album from the mid-2010s. But lyrically, Freedman has created a comical meta-commentary on the pizza man — providing the perspectives of both the hungry stoner and the underappreciated delivery driver.


Saint Free continues to flex his skills in obtusely imaginative storytelling with the following track, “Bond with Bondage.” In this erotic homage to sex positivity, Saint Free’s voice is smooth and sweet, jumping into falsetto to create dazzling background vocals that swell throughout the song. Freedman continues the rockabilly spirit established in previous tracks, and adds additional texture through the use of a call and response pattern, shouting, “Let’s bond with bondage! / (Tie me up when I disobey) / Let’s bond with bondage! / (Ball gags I love to play.)”

Saint Free will play the record release show for “Tussio” as a quintet — alongside House Majority, Checks and Exes, and OHS & Bad Weapon — on Friday, Aug. 6, at 8 p.m., at Bug Jar, 219 Monroe Avenue. Tickets are $12 and can be purchased at saintfreemusic.com.

Emmarae Stein is a freelance writer for CITY. Feedback on this article can be directed to dkushner@rochester-citynews.com.
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