This week I’m going back in time a bit. The album I’ve chosen to review is now eight years old, but it sounds every bit as good as it did when it was fresh and new.
Donavon Frankenreiter is an American musician (with a great name) who in 2006 released his second album, titled ‘Move By Yourself’. Before we start, I need to address the potent fact that this man may well be the coolest guy on the planet, not only does he have the 70’s cop moustache and hair like a blonde Jimi Hendrix, but is also a professional surfer.
The album consists of eleven tracks, an eclectic mixture of soul and rock, with the alternative hip-hop star G. Love featuring on the track ‘Girl Like You’. It was released by Lost Highway Records on CD, MP3 and a clear vinyl edition.
The album opens with the title track. ‘Move By Yourself’ begins with a single strand of echoing organ and symbols, which is hastily disrupted by a funk-inspired chord progression. Frankenreiters vocals are smile inducing, his guitar and lyricism full of soul. The relaxed attitude of the chorus quickly rubs off, and you find yourself nodding along. A stinging guitar solo from Frankenreiter tears across the smooth organ and percussion, and with a final chorus, the track fades into the next.
‘The Way It Is’ introduces itself with a beautiful mixture of guitar riff and plucked strings, and as it begins to flow, the soulful keyboard, relaxed strums and bending notes of guitar, and vocals that could relax even the most high-maintenance child. Constantly littered with rumbling bass lines and a ridiculously catchy rhythm, the second track of the album dies out with a single beat of percussion.
‘By Your Side’ is a stunningly melodic fusion of soul and rock, and is followed by the equally impressive ‘These Arms’; a folky riff is layered under Frankenreiter’s scratching vocals, and evokes the warmth, beauty and joy of summer.
With a long, wavering note of keyboard ‘Let It Go’ opens. A great track. A set of laid back verses and an up-beat chorus, streaming with funky guitar and vocals that are a pleasure to hear.
‘Fool’ is the sixth track of the album. A consistent riff sways through the entire track, interrupted only by steady beats of percussion, guitar that twists and contorts brilliantly, and vocals that spill over you like the gentlest of summer swells. ‘Fool’ fades, and ‘Everytime’ opens. A slow, lackadaisical track, which, if anything, is the low point of the album. Frankenreiter’s voice is casual, and the soulful resonance of backing vocalists echo his lyrics, which tell of love and loss.
Eight tracks in, and all is good. Next up is ‘That’s Too Bad’. It opens with an electrifying, bluesy guitar riff, which snakes throughout the track. This, when mixed with funked up keyboards and the typical smooth nature of Frankenreiter’s vocals results in a brilliant piece of music, in my opinion, the best track of the album.
The following two tracks are the catchy, swing inducing ‘Girl Like You’, the only live track of the album, and the fragile and beautiful ‘All Around Us’, which mixes acoustic styles with soul rendering gospel. Both are great songs, and only add to the general ‘this is really bloody good’ feeling of the album.
The twelfth and final track is the entirely acoustic ‘Beautiful Day’. A piercing and exotic riff opens the track, and continues under the husky, heart warming singing from Frankenreiter. Rhythmic strumming and beautiful vocals make this track a highlight of the album.
To draw some kind of conclusion; This album is really, really good. It makes the listener feel genuinely happy. Somehow, Frankenreiter, on this album, has managed to find a balance between upbeat, funk-inspired tracks, and affectionate acoustic songs. An impressive album, in which Donavon Frankenreiter showcases himself strongly as a song writer, guitarist, and vocalist.
LUKE’S RATING – 7/10
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