Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ron Franklin
Ron Franklin

From the two-man blues shack stompers (Left Lane Cruiser, Black Diamond Heavies) to gnarled garage gems (Thomas Function, Bloody Hollies)) onto psychedelic dance (SSM) and long-lost funketeers (the now sadly departed Nathaniel Mayer) the Alive label can readily be relied upon to unearth much musical food and wine from seemingly over spent, arid ground. So onto this young Memphite and much to his credit that it’s been a long time since a stroll past a coffee bar locked the aromas within into this cynical consciousness. This third album from the erstwhile Tennessean is much more timeless than timewarp despite detailing familiar trails. Though many obvious Dylan references can be pulled from Franklins’ inside pockets and shirt cuffs he isn’t cut from quite the same rambling cloth nor is he shying away from such influences, naming his publishing Dying Crapshooter after the Blind Willie McTell tune while having the beat generation stance down so fine he’s like what you always imagined many an over-vaunted seventies singer-songwriter to sound like, before the disappointingly safe, smug veneer evaporates all traces of humanity and makes you realise why Springsteen was and is so important. Indeed, Franklin’s eloquent hobo blues wouldn’t pass Nebraska by on the roadside with its arm held out for a ride. With feet frequently but fleetingly in the folk field as on Do Not Wait ‘Til I’m Laid ‘Neath The Clay and We Ain’t Got No Home, his threadbare twang keens with a certain familiar unpredictability atop guitar and splashes of harmonica, he also unveils ghostly bluesy crawls like Dark Night, Cold Ground and All Along A Summer’s Day, evoking as much of Jeffery Lee Pierce and The Gun Club’s early broadsides as he does Buddy Holly on delightful opener Western Movies. Wreathed in reverb his voice is an alluringly fey and affecting high lonesome whine with hints of Jagger’s affectation, Peter Perrett’s flippant disdain, Bolan’s playful spaniel-isms and something of Johnny Thunders’ jaundiced yet vulnerable, drawling ennui as best displayed on the acoustic Hurt Me album. Though the narrative furlongs focus on oft-told tales of cars and girls, movies and transient experiences, Franklin succeeds in overcoming any trite pitfalls lesser talents would unwittingly display, twisting modernity into traditional structures with a natural flair belying the talent of a guy who had been a feature of Arthur Lee’s latter day Love troupe. It may be a bold statement but balladeering has rarely, or scarcely, been better than on this ghostly, enchanting collection, be it the bewitching Dear, Marianne or the beguilingly beautiful acoustic lament That’s Just The Love I Have 4U - Rivers Of Babylon reference to boot. Stu Gibson

1 comment:

Michael said...

I'm gonna have to hear this guy.

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