album ‘Frank’ review by Tony Foster at bh one

May 17th, 2010

Review by Tony Foster

Honest, down to earth, no airs, no graces. Frank. From my limited knowledge of the man himself, Pete Christie’s music is a true reflection of his personality, which should be said of any artist who’s worth their salt. This seems particularly relevant to Pete and Frank though, as we quite simply have a man and his thoughts, a man who has clearly lived, loved and lost. Pete Christie is a storyteller, his songs aren’t coded or muddied with riddles, it’s honest, down to earth. Frank. That said, whilst there’s no denying the candour, I’ve seen real angst pouring from rain-soaked stages which isn’t to be found here – from man who tells it how it is, even if it’s crap.

Having watched Pete Christie live on a number of occasions the man clearly has more to his musical bow that is apparent on this wonderful album. I’ve seen him work his instrument far more than the perfectly played, yet relatively confined way evident here, showing a fantastic ability to build up songs through a succession of guitar loops. This may suggest Pete has left something in his locker, but then again I’ve never seen Pete play with a band before (he’s just showing off by bringing in the Band of the Royal British Legion from Christchurch) and there’s far more than just a man and his perfectly-picked guitar here. So if he has left something behind he’s also brought in something new… to me, anyway.

One of the most enjoyable features of Frank is indeed the musical and vocal accompaniment which adds depth and warmth, whilst never competing with the lyrics. ‘Easy Come, Easy Go’ particularly stands out as something previously unheard. An up-tempo pop song with a groovy bass line that reminds me of a 1970s children’s TV programme, the name of which has been escaping me for the last month. ‘Normal Shade Of Blue’ and ‘Waiting In The Wings’ have been staples of Pete’s live set over the year’s I’ve been watching him, the latter of which hugely benefiting from the brass arrangement and angelic harmonies which add to the song’s earnest appeal.

There is nothing here which hints at mediocrity. Perhaps lyrically some songs dig deeper into the human psyche than others, and no doubt there’s some hard bastards out there who would call some of this “slushy”. Well, if music that affects the emotions, tugs at the heart and dives into the soul is slushy, then I’ll happily be called a softy. Frank is not background music. It’s a wonderfully written book brought to life by sounds.

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