Franky Perez’s new album Crossing the Great Divide, was released on June 24 via Black Sea Music. Writing for Six Shooter Country, Georgie Thorogood takes a listen and shares her thoughts on this exciting new artist.
Hot off the heels of a lively and fantastically received set at Black Deer festival, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Franky Perez might indeed be crossing the great divide from his regular metal & rock gigs, to the slightly more genteel Americana genre. Well, you’d be wrong – if you’re expecting a review of an Americana or country album, look away now!
That said, the album melts together a cauldron of different influences, resulting in a flavoursome selection of songs that feel like a true representation of Franky himself.
The opening bars of When I Think Of You present an “other worldly” feel, with a heavily synthed voice and a style reminiscent of The Carpenters’ Calling Occupants. That is where the similarity ends and an indie pop-rock tune develops.
Having been a little confused when listening for the first time, expecting an Americana album, the ground feels a little firmer when moving on to The Great Divide. A slightly more rootsy vibe brought about by a heavier emphasis on strings is still a little tenuous, although the repetitive baseline tune is catchy enough. The cello is played beautifully by Eicca Toppinen and is a welcome addition for this country loving reviewer.
Samurai comes next and is perhaps the top pick from the album. Infused with a jazz/roots/bluesy vibe, this up-tempo tune tells much more of a story than many of the others. The storytelling continues with California 1976, a story of a girl heading to LA with the Hollywood dream (*spoiler alert* which then goes wrong). This is a beautifully put together song, with a touch of the dramatic in the opening airline ding dongs and announcement, and the impactful closing vocals.
What Gives You the Right is the most country offering on the album. A slower start and a touch of a western twang are clearly representative of the influence Franky has found in the likes of Roy Orbison and older artists.
Illumination and Shadow Boxer both highlight Perez’s vocals, which could easily have been taken from a Paulo Nutini album. Both long songs, (5mins 37 and 4mins 52 respectively), Franky is really tapping into his Cuban roots here with a mix of Latino and rootsy vibes.
90’s Love Song picks up the pace as a song firmly in the pop category and is followed by the unremarkable but inoffensive Anywhere but Here. 20/20 Vision might also fall into the unremarkable slot too. The great saxophone and instrumentation saves it a little where the songwriting fails to engage with this listener. Again, another 5mins + track, it feels a little lacking in what it achieves in this time.
Leaning Into the Wind rounds off the album well and this does cross the great divide, finally connecting the listener with the writer and perfectly encapsulating the joy and liberation found in setting off on a road trip, feeling empowered and feeling the wind through your hair.
Having now listened several times through, it’s clear that this album is well put together. The use of many instruments and heavy production feels like a natural move from an artist with a background like Perez, who’s mainly concentrated in much heavier styles of music.
The fact that he played most of the instruments on the album is a testament to his musical talent. His ability to reflect both his own Cuban heritage and his numerous and differing influences is clever.
Whilst it’s not what was expected, when played live and without the big production from the final cuts, it is possible to imagine this being well received and an Americana festival. The album, as a whole, is a truly personal singer/songwriter offering, which is exactly how it has been packaged.
Crossing The Great Divide is now available on all digital platforms https://ffm.to/ov5yvry
1. When I Think of You
2. The Great Divide
4. California 1976
5. What Gives You the Right
7. Shadow Boxer
8. 90’s Love Song
9. Anywhere But Here
10. 20/20 Vision
11. Leaning Into the Wind