Before his latest release, the Corndawg (aka Johnny Fritz of Philadelphia) was known exclusively as a musical prankster crooning obscene, country-fried novelty songs like "Is It Too Late to Abort?" But Fritz's talent is nothing to smirk at. Southern by birth, he's a great songwriter and a magnetic performer with a lonesome, Appalachian falsetto, and it's these qualities that Fritz explores in greater detail on The Liberated North.
Perfectly encapsulating his sudden and dramatic leap from white-trash comedian to sophisticated satirist of American rural life is the record's gem, titled "Pregnant Scare." Over a bouncing progression of guitar, banjo, and accordion, the Corndawg becomes a man terrified to come home and learn whether he's got his girlfriend pregnant yet again: "But darling, I can't afford another boy to feed/I hope you ain't got no child inside of you." Then the Corndawg's pained wail adopts an added dimension of desperation and delusion: "I dreamed I saw my son and he was washed up onshore/Baby, every lie you tell, the waves and the rocks they tear him more and more." Look, we love cheap, locker-room humor, but Fritz's new direction possesses so much more possibility that we can't wait to hear what becomes of it.