Candid Young Songwriter Pours Out His Freewheelin’ Desires
A couple of months ago the nice young lady excitedly contacted me about a new singer-songwriter that the label had signed; and she thought I might like him. She subsequently sent a Top Secret download and followed that up with some ‘rushes’ from his first video.
By nature I’m a cynical and grumpy old man; and make my own judgements on such matters; but it appears Julia knows my tastes all too well and I was immediately bowled over.
Those three months have been a bit of a nightmare ‘keeping a secret’ but Frankie Lee’s debut album American Dream finally comes out on October 2nd and I can share my thoughts with you and the world.
The album opens with High and Dry; and if I’d not heard those first two songs I would have thought I was hearing a lost track of Gram Parsons singing the best song Bob Dylan ‘never wrote.’ Yes I know that’s a brave statement; but Lee’s voice is as soft and warm as Gram albeit with a slight nasal drawl; and his use of words are as poetic as early Dylan – trust me.
Next up is the song that originally took my breath away – Where Do We Belong? To the uninitiated it’s a mid-paced slice of Americana featuring a chug-along beat and a pedal steel; but it is oh so much more. Lee sounds ‘world weary’ and takes us on a road trip through his thoughts, with his ‘best gal at his side’, conjuring up some of the most amazing Americana images you’ve ever heard on record.
The band and production are absolutely first class; and even my use of hyperbole hardly do them justice; but between them they make Frankie Lee sound like a 30 year veteran of the Alt. Country scene; which is quite a feat.
East Side Blues; which appears quite early has a beautiful haunting melody and the song is an absolute humdinger; worthy of Townes, Guy or Uncle Bob himself.
Buffalo was the the B-Side of his single and made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end when I first heard it; and here it’s a pivot in the middle of the album and guides us majestically into the second half of a great debut album.
While I am pigeon-holing this as Alt. Country; but Frankie isn’t afraid to go back into his record collection to create pure Country heart string pulling love songs like Honest Man and Horses.
Perhaps its where I am in my head at the moment; but the song I’ve gone back to most this week has been Black Dog; an introspective slice of Gothic Country (?) possibly to be taken literally; but possibly an excerpt from his dark imagination. Whichever; I love it.
The album closes with the title track American Dreamer; which perfectly sums up everything that has gone before in three piano encrusted minutes.
Lee’s own love of music is apparent throughout; but his distinctive voice and image laden songwriting make him a force not only to be listened to; but to reckoned with by his peers.
Released UK 2nd October 2015