Personnel: Michael Fitz (vocals, guitar, harmonica); Rosemary Butler, Arnold McCuller (vocals); Derol Caraco (guitar); David McKelvy (harmonica); Lon Price (clarinet); Larry Klimas (saxophone); Lee Thornberg (trumpet); Nick Lane (trombone); Sterling Smith (keyboards).
Recording information: 2005-2006.
Photographer: Micah Smith.
Singer/songwriter Michael Fitz is a protégé of Rosemary Butler, a singer who has been a contributor to the Southern California pop/rock scene dating back to the 1970s, with backup vocal credits on albums by the likes of Crosby, Stills & Nash and Neil Young, and as might be expected, Fitz is a performer in that tradition. He has a husky tenor voice that enables him to sing his songs soulfully as they are played by L.A. session stalwarts like bassist Leland Sklar in full-bodied folk-rock arrangements. Actually, it's those arrangements and that voice that are the most impressive aspects of Never Look Back. In SoCal singer/songwriter tradition, the style of the music is supposed to support the literate, personal lyrics, but Fitz's songs, typically containing sketchy stories of love and longing, tend toward clichés, generalities, and easy rhymes. He and his fellow musicians have captured the form, but not the function of this kind of music. And from a technical standpoint, the album suffers from one of those awful MP3-ready mixing/mastering jobs, courtesy of engineer John Perez, in which every instrument has been pushed forward to the point of distortion, resulting in a flat, noisy sound picture without depth or definition. Still, Fitz's expressive voice and grasp of the style of singer/songwriter folk-rock show potential. ~ William Ruhlmann