This album is gift wrapped for dreamers, whether you’re living it real stateside or hooked up in an estate in suburban England armed with a fistful of records celebrating the West. Frankie Lee has lived the life of a country song and now his debut album AMERICAN DREAMER unveils as a road map to the land of endless highways. This widely travelled artist, now based in Minneapolis, has teamed up with Loose Music for its European release and praise has come rushing in from a plethora of trusted sources. What the listener is presented with is a compact set of ten tracks bathed in the essence of a late night jam. What you are left with is the satisfied feeling of letting a deluge of cool Americana music soak right through layer upon layer of emotive resistance.
Lee bases his writing on the vastness of the rural landscape and uses impressive imagery skills to relay the contents of his fertile imagination. Musically, Lee has gravitated to the piano for his sound accompaniment treading in the footsteps of many of his compatriot luminaries. The vocals wrap around each tune with a delightful feel of a wearisome soul, yet marvellously match the mood of the songs’ sentiments. The true worth of any record is to raise a satisfying smile with each listen and the continual playing of sensational album opener ‘High and Dry’ manages this every time the tones of the track hit your aural senses. A killer chorus is a key part of many a good song with the banjo and fiddle parts adding to the impact of this storming start.
Echoes of classic 70’s singer-songwriter rock is etched on ‘Black Dog’, an era continually surfacing in much of the current Americana output. The full sound inserted into this track adds an air of grandeur to the overall feel of the album. A softer yet equally as tough side of Lee comes across on the emotive ‘Queen of Carolina’ which lowers the mood without lowering the quality. A road song built around love adorns this sultry number bestowed with some useful harmonica. The mood is retained with ‘East Side Blues’, or if anything a haunting sound makes it one of the album’s darker corners. The other song to reside in the album’s first half, or side A on the undoubtedly sought after vinyl format, is the solid twang induced melody that emerges from ‘Where Do We Belong’.
The second half opens with a couple of contrasting sounding tracks in ‘Buffalo’ and ‘Honest Man’. The first has been selected for album promotion and rolls along with a steady rock-laden groove, while the latter is a more laid back offering. There is nothing wrong with a stab at a little soul in any Americana album and the nearest you get to that on AMERICAN DREAMER is the fascinating vibes emanating from ‘Know By Now’, reflecting Lee at his ear pleasing best. ‘Horses’ emerges as the album’s penultimate track and if you are not transfixed by the sound of Frankie Lee now then it’s perhaps time to seek pastures new. However the initiated will be fully on board and absolutely on the radar of Lee’s enticing sound. Saving the title track to the end proves a masterstroke for Lee, as the piano intro to ‘Americana Dreamer’ sets the scene for an evocative number sealing the deal of this being a class album from start to finish.
Frankie Lee has nailed a genre in his debut album with the essential ingredients securely in place to exceed expectations in terms of instrument sound, vocal feel and ability to feed the imaginative reservoirs of an intriguing mind. AMERICAN DREAMER is a driving, gritty and expansive release representing all that is alluring about a quality Americana record. A UK suburban record collection has been enriched by the addition of this album and it would be wise for like-minded people to do the same upon its October 2nd release.