Luke Franks Or The Federalists, The Way We Ran

Luke Franks Or The Federalists, The Way We Ran

Luke Franks Or The Federalists play gentle indie folk-pop, and on their album The Way We Ran, Franks has the unfortunate problem of sounding like Dave Matthews. Their music isn’t as bad as Dave Matthews’ is — it has more of a Ryan Adams quality — but it’s not quite good enough to overcome this unfortunate situation. (Not that Ryan Adams is doing that much better.) The mellow vibe of his voice and of the band doesn’t help them distinguish themselves, either. It may be part of being from California more than any musical identification, but nonetheless, it remains a problem.

Their melodies are also sappy. “Benjamin and Bonnie,” a slow ballad, is languid, affectless, and annoying. “Liar’s Choir,” a retro-country rocker, borrows melodically way too heavily from the Eagles, down to the harmonies on the chorus. “Rest In Our Rage,” a slower rocker, actually does sort of sound like Dave Matthews. Even on dark songs like “Over, It’s Over,” the mellowness of his voice makes every song sound completely detached and unaffected.

The band does their part in a difficult situation, contributing some interesting lines to the songs. The lead guitar player does some good work, especially on the intro of “Rest In Our Rage.” The woozy slide guitar and barrelhouse piano on “Up All Night” are also a lot of fun. The retro-sounding organ part in “Liar’s Choir” is nicely conceived, although it doesn’t really fit with the song. But ultimately, it’s not enough to make up for the quality of the songs.

Luke Franks Or The Federalists have a couple of big problems here, one of which is particularly hard to overcome. Even if he improved his songs, Franks would still sound like Dave Matthews. If he had a little more depth or flexibility to his voice, it might help. Right now his singing gives the songs the same detached quality. Maybe a little more depth in his voice would help him with that. Of course, that would still reveal the quality of his songs, which are still pretty bad. Hopefully Franks has something else going for him, like being a great live performer, ’cause The Way We Ran doesn’t have much going for it.

(Talking House Records --; Luke Franks Or The Federalists --
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Review by . Review posted Monday, May 24th, 2010. Filed under Features, Reviews.

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