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Ron Franklin

Ron Franklin

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Album Review

On his third album, Ron Franklin is messing with the blues again, though that's hardly all he has on his mind. Ron Franklin opens with "Western Movies," a tune that cops its title from an oldie by the Olympics, and its sound and style from Buddy Holly before making way for "Call It a Night," an acoustic number which could pass for an early Bob Dylan copyright in dim light, and while Franklin's Memphis loyalties shine through the cracks in both tracks, he manages to sound like someone who respects the blues tradition while still finding the space to play with its conventions at the same time. (This becomes all the more evident on "Dark Night, Cold Ground" and "The Elocutionist," which hit closer to the roots of traditional blues while still twisting the framework with their fuzzy tone and aggressive simplicity.) Nearly all the songs on Ron Franklin capture the man performing all by his lonesome, either on acoustic or electric guitar, with occasional overdubbed percussion while Franklin's reedy vocals and harmonica hover over it all. The results are simpler but more satisfying than 2007's City Lights; where on that album Franklin's challenges to convention sometimes played out like a hipster's parody, with less gingerbread his sincerity, as well as his imagination, are more evident, even as ghosts of pop, folk, and garage rock are plainly visible on the horizon and lyrical lifts from classic songs dot the landscape. Stark, simple, and subtly witty, Ron Franklin suggests this artist has a bright future as long as he remembers that less can be more.

Biography

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s

While Ron Franklin doesn't seem to enjoy giving out details about himself — when or where he was born, where he's living, or even where he'll be playing — he's become a vital presence on the Memphis, Tennessee music scene, working with a wide variety of noted musicians (among them Jim Dickinson, Jeffrey Evans and James Cotton) and releasing several acclaimed solo albums. Franklin once told journalist Denise Sullivan that he was born while his nomadic parents were making a rest stop during...
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Ron Franklin, Ron Franklin
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