COURTESY SCOTT SOENS/UMG NASHVILLE
Donavon Frankenreiter takes on the funk on his new album "Move by Yourself."
FOR HIS SECOND album, Jack Johnson's good friend Donavon Frankenreiter gets funkified.
If Frankenreiter continues to put out such solid music as is found on "Move by Yourself," he might have to put his professional surfing career on the back burner. As pleasant as his 2004 debut was -- recorded at Johnson's North Shore home studio and released on the Brushfire Records label -- there was little to prepare Frankenreiter's fans for the effusive feel of his music on this new album. It's like the singer-guitarist went from the Hawaiian beach back yard directly to a steamy Southern chicken shack.
"Move by Yourself"|
Donavon Frankenreiter (Lost Highway)
The music is made more appealing due to being recorded on analog equipment in a Florida studio. That additional old-school warmth, along with an ace mixing job by Neal Pogue, brings Frankenreiter and friends upfront-and-live in your speakers. It's music imbued with an early-1960s vibe.
"I listen to so much music," Frankenreiter says in his press kit's biography, "and I pretty much feel comfortable singing all of it, so I didn't want to come across as a guy who does nothing else but sit on a beach with an acoustic guitar, playing around a fire. The funky stuff, especially, is fun to play -- it really lets me tap into a different part of my personality."
It all taps into his neo-hippie bliss, and the funk comes in different colors, as well. It can be a little uptown, as it is on "The Way It Is," crisply played with some wah-wah guitar from Frankenreiter, electric piano and drums courtesy of respective band-mates Eric Brigmond and Craig Barnette, and an additional string arrangement by Benjamin Wright that adds a nice touch of blue. "By Your Side" sounds like Jack Johnson with more edge, complete with an extended groove. Bassist Matt Grundy helped co-write the warm and inviting "These Arms."
Things get more down-home gritty on songs like "Fool," a low-key affair that rides on Barnette's steady drumming and comes with a tasty Frankenreiter solo and cooing female backing vocals. "Girl Like You" features Johnson's buddy G. Love blowin' a bit of harp, and Frankenreiter gets all white-boy soulful on the testifyin' "All Around Us."
The band especially clicks on the title track (good use of organ and clavinet by Brigmond) and "That's Too Bad (Byron Jam)."
I admit I was surprised by Frankenreiter's growth as a musician. He could have been satisfied by staying in Jack Johnson's orbit, but as "Move by Yourself" shows, Donavon Frankenreiter breaks out with a wholly independent and satisfying sound of his own.