Franco And The Dreadnought

(Glasstone Records)

Even before a note has been played, this reviewer is irked by something we’ve spotted in the acknowledgements. While thanks are variously handed out to worthy individuals, a cap is also doffed to “the people I know that will play this album repeatedly”.

The words “I know” scorch themselves with branding-iron arrogance onto my brain. And as I begin to sharpen my hatchet while I throw the CD into the stereo – an open window was tempting – I realise that, in my case, our Franco (“aka John Blaylock”, also in the sleeve notes – again, irksome) has me bound to his assertion: repeated listens are a reviewer’s shackles.

In this case, however, it’s a good job I’m duty bound. Upon first listen, apart from being bookended by standout tracks, the defiantly optimistic Moving Mountains and album-closer-by-numbers ballad The Catch Of The Pride, most tracks seemed to blend into one another. On the second lap, however, Last Man Standing stands up as the album’s pop-singalong anchor, while Monsters +Ghosts attaches a catchy rhythm and melody to the notion of fear, a song much more aligned to the likes of singer-songwriters such as Fionn Regan.

The ‘Oh dear God’ factor, which repeats like a bad curry, belongs to penultimate track Friends, which sees Franco the Manco donning his inner-city Mike Skinner chops with something approximating a rap, the words “We barely see each other now we’ve all got girls” a lament of the loss of friendship that reflects Eminem’s How Come? in that the titular words of the blonde one’s track instantly spring to mind.

On reflection, Franco’s is a debut that, while not earning too many repeats on this reviewer’s stereo, is a piece of work that really does reward that extra effort.

Stephen Brolan

*An edited version of this review is published in the August edition of BrumNotes magazine.


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