Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Frank Black goes Nashville

Frank Black Honeycomb

Recorded just prior to The Pixies reunion tour of 2004, Honeycomb almost feels like an instrument to completely differentiate Charles Thompson's personas Frank Black & Black Francis. Knowing that he was going to ressurrect the screaming persona in the Pixies, Black seems like he felt free to explore a path even further away from that persona then his recent albums with the Catholics. It apparently is supposed to an homage to Dylan's Blonde on Blonde, an album which had an effect on young Charles Thompson.

It apparently took only four days, and included long-time Nashville session musician favorites like organist Spooner Oldham; guitarists Steve Cropper, Buddy Miller and Reggie Young; and drummer Anton Fig.

Much like Elvis Costello did prior, with Almost Blue, Frank Black's Nashville album may shock the sensibilities of long-time fans. But while Almost Blue was entirely made of covers, Black eases the shock some by penning 10 of the 14 tracks. Of his new songs, "I Burn Today" does to country what "Headache" did for power pop, and "Another Velvet Nightmare" is a great drunken tale that sounds like a honkey-tonk Leonard Cohen. Of the covers, the "Dark End of the Street" comes out as genuine as Gram Parsons sang it (The Flying Burrito Bros.,) with his band playing it soulful like Percy Sledge's version. And Doug Sahm's "Sunday Sunny Mill Valley Groove Day" is a good reminder that Black cites him as an influence on his post-Pixies work.

The true gem here, though, is the song "Strange Goodbye," which details the unraveling of his marriage. Sung as a duet with his soon to be-ex-wife Jean, it's both upbeat and so utterly endearing, it breaks your heart with a smile. Stands only behind "Headache" in his post-Pixies body of work.

The album, on the whole, is pleasant and rewarding to the ear. If it suffers anything it's the unevenness of the second-half of the album. It begs the question, though... is this Frank Black now that Black Francis is back? Or is it merely a forced truck-stop break on his trip across the Americana landscape?

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1 comment:

drake leLane said...

Frank Black - Honeycomb

* "Selkie Bride" - Frank Black
* "I Burn Today" - Frank Black
* "Lone Child" - Frank Black
* "Another Velvet Nightmare" - Frank Black
* "Dark End Of The Street" - Frank Black
* "Go Find Your Saint" - Frank Black
* "Song Of The Shrimp" - Frank Black
* "Strange Goodbye" - Frank Black
* "Sunny Sunday Mill Valley Groove Day" - Frank Black
* "Honeycomb" - Frank Black
* "My Life Is In Storage" - Frank Black
* "Atom In My Heart" - Frank Black
* "Violet" - Frank Black
* "Sing For Joy" - Frank Black