Move By Yourself

The sophomore album by Donavon Frankenreiter takes him miles ahead of his debut. His new sound is significantly deeper and richer than previously, and the new album is much more fun.

The pro surfer turned singer/songwriter from Laguna Beach, California, met Jack Johnson (another musician-slash-surfer) who signed Frankenreiter to Johnson's record label for his debut album. The record featured Johnson producing and performing on the album, and the results, perhaps predictably, sounded very like Jack Johnson's own discs.

Frankreiter opted to go a different route for his follow-up, and he broke with Johnson's record label as well as with Johnson himself as a collaborator (though the pair remain friends). He zeroed in on a '70s soul and R&B sound and fused it with the laid-back, bonfire-ready troubadour of his debut.

In "The Way It Is," for example, Frankenreiter establishes the mood with '70s R&B strings and wah-wah rhythm guitar. His lyrics and vocals still show Frankenreiter as the Jack Johnson protégé he was, singing surfer/slacker lyrics like, "Remember sitting on that beach, watching all that lightning fill up the sky/Well, you got so scared until I told you it was just fireworks like the fourth of July." But Frankenreiter deftly merges that persona with a Bill Withers/Bobby Womack sensibility that invigorates the approach.

Frankenreiter strays from the soul and funk on several tracks. "Fool" is a midtempo blues song, with some terrific guitar work. And "These Arms" lean more towards Steve Winwood-inspired jam band territory.

Like Josh Rouse's 1972 album, Donavon Frankenreiter's Move By Yourself reaches back 25 years for his musical compass. And like Rouse's effort, Frankenreiter manages to walk the line keeping the retro sound fresh without tumbling over into campiness.

Mike Sauter, WYEP Music Director