Frankenreiter continues to purvey his blend of easy grooves and laid-back philosophy.
Tim Nelson 2008-09-05
Away from the impact zone, you might know pro-surfer Donavon Frankenreiter best for his hit song, Free, produced by Jack Johnson, or perhaps Lovely Day: not the Bill Withers song, but his contribution to the gloriously silly Snakes On A Plane. On Pass it Around, his third album, Frankenreiter continues to purvey his blend of easy grooves and laid-back philosophy.
Frankenreiter's USP remains his singing voice; a rasping drawl that might be characterized as JJ Cale-lite. In fact, he's so mellow, he makes Bill Murray seem hectic. And there's certainly something to be said for a man who can make singing ''Sha la la la'' sound like a heroic effort. The content can be pretty much summed up by the first song title, Life, Love And Laughter, particularly when he sings, ''Everything you need can be right in front of you''. For the allusions to contemporary issues, from war to the environment, it's hard not to feel that all he really wants to do is catch another wave.
Producer Joe Chiccarelli carves some smooth arrangements around the lip with plenty of fluff (If you’ll excuse the surfing lingo). Hit The Ground Running is particularly catchy and positive, and the album does have some genuinely affecting moments. There are some punchy horn arrangements on Your Heart and the title track, and pretty country stylings on Come With Me. But even if tracks like Too Much Water manage to combine the mellow approach with a more genuinely urgent lyric, the album as a whole is somewhat generic, lacking in the daring invention that would lift this out of the realms of the merely competent. Much like the holiday busker who moves you to actually buy his five-dollar cassette, the thrill, does, sadly, fade on repetition.