Sunday, October 19, 2008

Donavon Frankenreiter - Pass it Around (LP, Lost Highway)

On his third album, the former surfer and friend of Jack Johnson returns with another serving of laid-back singer/songwriter soul. This time around, there's not as much energy and fewer memorable songs than on 2006's Move by Yourself. It feels a bit of a step back from that album's ambition and drive, but results in a perfectly good record (just not exceptional).

Who knows, this may be the direction Frankenreiter wants to go in. As he says on the album opener, "Life, Love & Laughter", "Don't look back, it won't do any good/Don't look ahead, you'll just be misunderstood".

The inventive arrangements of Move by Yourself gives way to a smooth & sophisticated sound. The album has a much more professional feel, with less of a "dude and his friends hanging out on the beach" kind of vibe. This could be because Frankenreiter took on co-writers for most of the tracks on the album.

That being said, Frankenreiter does give us some heartfelt performances, like when he begs you to "Take your time, don't live so fast / You've got to sing a song if you want to make it last" on "Sing a Song". Or when he declares "We should be together, maybe forever/We don't need no enemies" on the final track "Come Together".

Part of Frankenreiter's charm on his first album was his innocence, while on the follow-up it was his ambition. Here, it feels like he made this album because he had to. That's not so bad, because the album is good. But we expect more of him, and hopefully this album is a pause for breath. This is an album fans will like. Not love, but that's okay.

The album is out on limited-edition blue vinyl and includes a bonus full-length CD, which comes in useful as a coaster for your beer.

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