You may know Pete Freeman as the guy behind that Front Row Amy song that totally blew up. You may know Pete Freeman as the guy behind that “Please don’t move to Milwaukee” song that also blew up. Now, Pete Freeman is hoping his debut album, Wisconsin Stories, will also blow up. On the strength of Freeman’s low-key humor and laid-back vibe, it should.
Take “Skylines & Distilleries.” On its face, the acoustic tune is about Freeman’s hometown of Frederick, Maryland, and how, upon return visits, the town feels less and less like home. “When the town stops feeling special and small,” Freeman sings, “you can bury me in the Frederick Towne Mall.” (The mall in question closed in 2013.) But, like Freeman’s Milwaukee song (a tongue-in-cheek response to that Vogue article from 2018), there’s a gentle touch and a dark sense of humor to take the edge off the grousing. Sure, Freeman doesn’t want “no buildings scraping [his] sky,” but he’s also quick to toss off funny-sad-lovely lyrics like this: “If a brewery pops up next to my favorite willow tree / You can bury me where the roots used to be.”
Freeman, who moved to Milwaukee six years ago, describes “Skylines & Distilleries” as “a short song about the town I grew up in and how it changes a little every time I go back. It also addresses my confusion toward trendy distilleries. Do people really enjoy just like…sipping craft vodka?”
Whether you enjoy sipping craft vodka or not, Freeman’s plaintive plea for things to slow down—if just for a moment—should resonate with most everyone. Stream it below, and be sure to check out Freeman’s record release show for Wisconsin Stories Friday, March 22 at The Gig.