Franky Perez Crossing The Great Divide

Franky Perez Crossing The Great Divide

Franky Perez Crossing The Great Divide a great listen for some very high-quality soft rock/pop songs performed by a man who knows how to craft lyrically and musically astute confections.

Bluesdoodles rating: 3 Doodle Paws – a great listen for some very high-quality soft rock/pop songs performed by a man who knows how to craft lyrically and musically astute confections.

An astronaut with patches across his suit, like the denim jackets of my youth, and stickers on his helmet as he stares back at the Earth burning…that is the emotive artwork for Franky Perez’s latest album, Crossing the Great Divide.
The patches aren’t the traditional band allegiance ones but cleverly refer to each of the song titles…C.T.D.G. is Crossing The Great Divide.

Anyway, in case you don’t know Franky, he has worked with artists ranging from Billy Gibbons and Joe Cocker and Ringo Starr, although most familiar to me from his work fronting Apocalyptica. He’s also performed with Steven Tyler and Slash among many others; in 2012 he fronted the Doors.

His fifth solo album, Crossing… is the result of a documentary he filmed with the same title as he travelled across the States on a motorbike, playing for healthcare workers and patients and trading stories with fellow musicians and entertainers like the Soul Rebels, Billy Gibbons, Randy Travis and Bill Burr. If you doubt it, check out Ducati’s website for details of Franky and the bike! The journey wasn’t a gimmick, as Franky explains:  “Even though it was about Covid, it turned into something else. It’s a documentary about humanity and hope, and Covid is just a small thread of the story.”

Onto the music, and a need to keep reminding myself that, apart from one track, everything you hear is Franky: all of the instruments and the melodic, silken vocals. So when the opening track, When I Think of You, began with a somewhat cacophonous intro of manic battering of what sounds like knitting needles on pots and pans, I was concerned…but the song develops into a smooth rock/pop song a bit like Peter Gabriel’s chart singles. It has a many-layered backing that somehow doesn’t swamp the melodies.

The title track, sort of, The Great Divide brings acoustic and strings courtesy of Eicca Toppinen on cello in a soft rock song of touching intensity. With a title like Samurai, you’d be forgiven for expecting something weighty…instead, it’s a catchy, almost funky soft rock song but with ingenious lyrics about a lady who is the titular “Samurai with a glass of wine” or even better, “she’s a wordsmith and an acrobat.”

California 1976 however, does deliver what it says on the tin…classy West Coast rock follows the aircraft descent instructions. It has the layers of acoustic and harmony choruses you’d expect but with a sheen to match the subject matter. What Gives You the Right also needs sunglasses, but one’s similar to Roy Orbison, as the vocal and acoustic melodies, brought him to my mind immediately. Illumination moves into pop tinged with Latin flourishes as the off-kilter trumpet and mad bongoes begin the sound effect-laden intro…this feel does continue across the well-crafted pop with its complex acoustic and brilliant bass. Shadow Boxer could have been a massive hit in the late 60s as the acoustic, backed with tasty electric guitar and bass, lead into another very clever, layered pop/rock song.


90’s Love Song moves into, unsurprisingly, the 90s and even has a touch of British pop of that time. This is the first time the percussion has stood out as programmed and sounds a bit false to my ear, but the bass line is genius (again) and brings a hint of funk into play. Anywhere But Here has a brilliant acoustic chord strike and then moves into a catchy funk-pop song with yet more fascinating and clever lyrics..and the backing barred guitar makes me imagine Blondie with a bloke! 20/20 Vision is the epitome of polished pop that, should it get the exposure would give a lot of the current bland ‘stars’ a run for their money.

The final track, Leaning Into the Wind, is Three Dog Night meets Lou Reed on a synth-pop outing…give it a close listen and you’ll hear what I mean.

There is no escaping the sheer skill of Franky as a multi-instrumentalist and producer. This album is packed full of very high-quality soft rock/pop songs that may be many leagues away from my normal musical consumption…but, if you like the softer side, this is a must have.

Franky Perez Crossing The Great Divide

Tracklisting:
When I Think of You
The Great Divide
Samurai
California 1976
What Gives You the Right
Illumination
Shadow Boxer
90’s Love Song
Anywhere But Here 20/20 Vision
Leaning Into the Wind

Musicians
Franky Perez: everything except…

cellist Eicca Toppinen of Apocalyptica and drummer Matt Chamberlain appear on The Great Divide.

Connect with Franky Perez across SOCIAL MEDIA
Official Website
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram
YouTube

(iTunes moved on to a song from the first LA Blues Authority ‘tribute’ albums. They did SRV and Cream for example, as well as giving a newly sobered Glenn Hughes a platform for comeback…from the 1992 release I listened to Fred Coury, Paul Gilbert and Phil Soussan do a brilliant heavy, heavy cover of The Hunter which nearly but not quite supplanted Free’s version in my affections.)

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