You can't say that vocalist/songwriter Scott Sinclair is afraid of change. After earning an MBA from Stanford and working for a financial institution for almost a decade, the Houston native chucked it all in 1999 to form this trio and go into music full-time. Then, after his band recorded its debut, Custom/10, Sinclair dismissed the other two members because he felt they "didn't click" with the spare, acoustic-based music influenced by Steve Earle, John Prine and even early Stones. Enlisting Mason Pitts (bass) and Adam Chasan (drums), Freeloader version 2.0 (the band is named for the Miles Davis cut "Freddie Freeloader") was ready for the road.
It's hoped the new lineup will give the group's live show a much-needed jolt. Many of the acoustic-based tracks on Custom/10 are rather lifeless musically; Sinclair's voice muddies many of his stream-of-consciousness lyrics. Some songs do stand out. "Lemonade" rocks like 1966 Stones with Sinclair's pronounced drawl a real version of what Mick pretended to have on the Stones' country-based tunes, while "Pigeon" unfolds as relaxing, lazy blues. A hint of what Freeloader can accomplish when they cut loose is seen in the more up-tempo "Entitled," but it's an exception to the otherwise low-key material.