Franny, a trio hailing from outside Athens, GA, offers their “songs for grown-up kids” on their recent release Songs. The band--Evan Tyor (bass/vocals), Colin Manko (guitar) and Philip Mayer (drums) delivers a well-written, well-played set that is full of fine storytelling and emotion.
The first track “Homebody” begins with Manko’s guitar. It feels poppy, but then we get a bit of dissonance and we know that this album won’t be a fairy tale. The tune falls into a mid-tempo, mid-2000s pop-rocker feel: nice and airy, with plenty of room for each instrument to carve out its own niche. Franny then adds their own welcome harmonic twists. Once through the bulk of the lyric, the band picks up the intensity, with changes of meter leading to a Beatles-esque ending. It’s a lovely beginning track, and one that I found myself playing repeatedly.
The lyrics of “Corduroy” are a straight re-telling of the famous story, propelled by Philip Mayer’s fantastic drumming. Franny speaks as each of the characters in turn, and their music evokes the distinct emotion that they feel: longing, dismay, sadness, hope, love, ecstasy. I found myself transported back to my own childhood, fondly remembering how it felt to shop with my own mother--and wanting that bear!
Evan Tyor’s bass and plaintive vocals start off “Little Owl.” When the band joins, Manko explores some jazz voicings on his guitar, underscoring the pop melody, as the group seamlessly shifts meter throughout. Franny turns up the heat for a Who-like middle section, with power coming from high-register bass and drums, while the guitars hold down the rhythm. They keep up the intensity into a crashing end.
“Peter” and “Pine Trees” are a creepy pair. “Peter” starts with Manko’s pick slide, and moves into a Broadway-like tone poem--we can almost see our stage actor moving the plot along with the lyrics. The band puts poignant emotion behind the story, and the sonic hits should be timed with light effects. “Pine Trees” is similarly creepy, though with some pleasing melodic surprises. Manko’s pick slides put a coda onto the track, closing the scary part of our journey.
“Lullaby” takes us home. It’s a sweet, acoustic-guitar track, with wind chimes (or is that a bicycle bell?) in the background. Mayer’s percussion is just right underneath, subtly pushing us along as Tyor’s vocal tucks us in and pulls up the covers. All is resolved and we can put our fears to rest.
I thoroughly enjoyed Franny’s Songs. The band is tight, and their music adds new layers to well-known stories. The disc sounds great, too, as they allow the tracks to breathe, rather than producing all the life out of them. Thank you, Franny, for helping me revisit some of my childhood emotions--I am refreshed and better for it.
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