Friday found longtime Austin singer-songwriter Michael Fracasso at Strange Brew reconvening with guitarist Charlie Sexton, who produced a couple of records for Fracasso near the turn of the century. Along with ace bassist George Reiff and a solid recent recruit in drummer Ramy Antoun, Fracasso had a stronger support crew for presenting his songs live than he’s had in quite some time.
Opening with the brilliant melody of “Hospital” from 1998’s “World in a Drop of Water,” they moved on to many more selections from that album and the subsequent live set “Back to Oklahoma.” They also worked in a couple of covers, including Johnny Thunders’ “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory,” as Sexton shared vivid memories of once having dinner with the late New York Dolls guitarist: “I can still see his eyes almost falling out of his head onto the clam and hot spicy red sauce.”
Fracasso recalled the sessions for “World in a Drop of Water” with wonder: He’d lay down basic guitar and vocal tracks, then would leave the studio to allow Sexton to “make this whole symphonic record in my absence.” (To which Sexton humbly clarified: “junkyard symphonic.”)
Bluesier numbers such as “Elizabeth Lee” and “Devil’s Deal” didn’t play to Fracasso’s strengths as much as chamber-pop tunes including “Gold” and “Jar of Pennies,” which were better fits for the singer’s high-register vocals. The title track to “World in a Drop of Water” also stood out, in part for a lyrical Sexton guitar solo that underscored why he’s been a longtime presence in Bob Dylan’s band.
Fracasso has been working on a new record, “Here Come the Savages,” that’s tentatively due out in January of next year. For more Instagram videos of his show Friday, and of other recent Austin live music events, check out @Blackstock360.