Aaron Freeman (Gene Ween): “As I Love My Own”

It’s been over a year since an infamous meltdown in Vancouver left fans baffled and concerned for Gene Ween, but this spring he returns — clean, sober, and with a debut solo record under his birth name, Aaron Freeman, in tow. “The Vancouver show was just terrible,” Freeman told Slate in a candid Q&A on his road to recovery and the inspiration behind his forthcoming Rod McKuen covers LP. “But I see that as a thing that helped me get to where I’m at now.”

The relevance of Freeman’s sobriety to this material resonates notably well upon hearing our first taste’s decidedly unaffected approach. Unlike his work with Ween, in which even the most earnest cuts seem to have a tongue-in-cheek edge, Freeman performed KcKuen’s tunes straight: “So what you hear on the record is how I really sing,” he said, “and that was a great exercise for me to do personally.”

Marvelous Clouds arrives in full on May 8th, but today you can stream the uplifting opening track, “As I Love My Own,” below: