Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Reviews:: Ron Franklin

The thing that becomes obvious as I listen to more and more music is that while the trends constantly shift, it's the songs that seem timeless that I seek out. When the sound-de-jour changes from dance punk to minimal dub to coke raps, it's hard not to feel lost. I don't always have the time to digest records, and part of the listening experience is lost.

Luckily, artists like Ron Franklin continue to make music that aspire to stand the test of time, instead of hoping to get their 15-minutes by being featured in an Ipod commercial. In fact, Franklin would probably talk you into the early morning with stories of being on the road with Arthur Lee or meeting blues legends before he'd mention someone like Feist or CSS. And truth be told, that's a conversation I'd much rather be a part of.

Franklin's honesty and appreciation shines through when you listen to his new self-titled release. Finding a song writer infatuated with Dylan's draw or the Ray Davies pop sensibilities is like finding a strand of hay in a haystack, but finding a young man willing to take those roots and fuse them with an appreciation for blues and soul that have been on this Earth longer than he has is something that stands out. Not many artists take standard American folk and cover it in enough swampy mud and soul food to make it stand out, especially when the normal accompaniment is just a guitar.

While lots of this record finds Franklin drifting along a dusty folk trail (Don Not Wait 'til I am Laid 'Neath the Clay or Visions of Parfume) with an acoustic or some harmonica, he's just as comfortable cranking up the electric and busting into some heavier blues action (All Along a Summer's Day or Pontiac). That being said, it's when he throws all of his styles into the same pot that the recipe works best. The record's standout track,The Elocutionist, showcases Franklin's harmonica, a rollicking slide guitar and some of his most inspired lyrics. The three-minutes seems to go by in a blink of the eye and you find yourself wanting to hear it over and over again.

I could go through this record track by track, trying to help you understand why this record a hidden treasure for music fans, but hearing a song hits you harder than an essay. For me, trying to express the hollow drum sound that keeps time for the electric guitar driven Western Movies just doesn't do it justice; neither does trying to describe the change of pace guitar flourish Franklin uses between the second and third verse.

In fact, trying to put any of this record into words makes me feel like I'm trying to convert the already converted. There isn't a hook that will grab you, but over the course of Franklin's latest twelve songs, I found myself letting go of any critical ear and just enjoying his effort. I'm not sure if it's because his songs are so good, or it's just refreshing to hear someone tip his hat to the greats and show us that good music doesn't rely on trends or require playing in the hottest tents at the biggest festivals. Sometimes playing in a shitty club or on a friends back porch is the realest moment in any musician's life.

[MP3]:: Western Movies

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Posted at 3:36 PM by ack :: 0 comments

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