Friday, October 11, 2013
Album Review- Be Frank, Furness by Heyward Howkins - "Puzzle box" of an album
On Be Frank, Furness (due out in November), Heyward Howkins spins his poetry in such an unusual way that it can, at time, make you feel like he is speaking in his own unique language. His vocal mannerisms, way of cooing phrases as well as turning them on their head feel like charming puzzle boxes. His love of words, of language is apparent. The fact that he is able to contain these jumbled stories in melodious songs is added icing to the cake. The songs themselves vary in tone and style but they all have this rich vagabond spirit. Nogales cut out of a folk indie rock cloth bounces along as joyfully as carefree lovers riding horseback through the desert. Cut and Corral with its many tempo shifts, kind of rolling bridge, dramatic heavy downbeats and obtuse lyrics is classic Howkins, "We see all woolen hands cursing that sky, and a pile of flints that weren't right, handles like Grendel pollenized with a sigh."
Some of Howkins song cast out imagery of rustic shambled boathouses meandering down the Mississippi (at least in my mind) or turn of the century musicians in smart straw hats in the French Quarter. Songs like Rare Earth, Brite Kites, Flimsy Stock and Sweet Tea Oleander have this undefinable southern elegance and with a rustic patina of another time or world really. Don't think that Be Frank, Furness is all stereo-scopic imagery. Lorraine dances with touches of 70's Brit Pop and a strong back beat and light indie rock feel. For some reason I could hear Elvis Costello covering this song. Pundit sounds vast in scope with heavy folk rock roots. Praline Country might just be the most endearing song on Be Frank, Furness. The song rolls along so rock solidly that it sweeps you away. Howkins says it is a murder ballad inspired by the Stagger Lee folk story. It feels earnestly and romantically wrought like an iconic The Band or Van Morrison song. It is a song in need of a movie, "I was stranded in Truckee in the cool praline country, you broke up the party when I said you seemed funny. In walked your best boy Billy, all of our really."
Be Frank, Furness like Howkins 2012 album The Hale and Hearty is a rare flower that is worth finding and taking hold of.