Secret Meeting score: 77
by Philip Moss
The huge acoustic guitar that opens Minneapolis native, Frankie Lee’s new LP, Stillwater, has all the shimmering warmth of those recorded by Phil Spector on George Harrison’s seminal All Things Must Pass LP. But once Speakeasy’s chorus kicks in, it’s Harrison’s Travelling Wilburys’ bandmate, Tom Petty, that comes to mind. And the opener is just one of a number of gems offered up here.
Downtown Lights is Lee’s ode to actress, Jessica Lange, and again recalls Petty on a lovely slice of Americana – its refrain, ‘I can feel your heart, baby, breakin’ in my arms tonight,’ is equally seductive to its harmonica filled middle eight. In The Blue sees his guitar swapped for a tinkle on the ivories – and it’s here that Lee’s voice really shines, as he sings of going out of his mind on this lonely tale of lost love. The hometown stories continue on One Wild Bird – another piano based number that’s one of the record’s most understated, but special moments.
It would be amiss to suggest Stillwater is consistently strong throughout. Broken Arrow feels lightweight; Only She Knows is rather throwaway – in fact, it’s more Jessie Malin than Bruce Springsteen. But, despite this, there are more than enough highlights across this sophomore collection to warrant the entrance fee.