Frank Shiner – Lonely Town
Frank Shiner’s 2016 album – Lonely Town, Lonely Street is a dedication to some of his favorite artists of the past and present, from an artist with a career in both theater and music. He’s been around the block and so have the people he works with, which includes too much to name here when it comes to producers and writers. He has also released a Christmas cover song to take out 2016 in cerebral fashion.
The 1960 tune “Please Come Home For Christmas” is getting played this holiday season in Macy’s, Bloomindales and Kohls stores, and that should put it among the highly played covers this year.
Shiner gets out his best to make this Christmas song stand out in a time of lesser celebration and it severs as a good kick in the ears to bring spirits up. There’s now looking the other way once you hear this cover, it’s a one hundred percent solid effort by all involved to do the justice to Brown’s golden oldie. He has that crooner quality that does the business on whatever he sings, so much that in a way, he makes his own footprints with it. This is fun for the entire family, as Shiner himself always delivers, no matter what music he’s making. Make sure to look for this as the weeks unfold.
An album of covers is always tricky, but this is an artist who does it like no other I’ve heard. He reinvigorates anything he reworks, with a passion that sometimes isn’t even obtained on the original songs, and it’s not often heard by any artist. He was a way of extending a song without extending its time stamp. It follows like original music, and the songs breathe their own air.
The Young Rascals are up first and it’s all downhill after that. “How Can I Be Sure” might be old, culled from the 60s, but it sounds like it was recorded just yesterday by Shiner. Not that he does much to change it, he just puts more finesse into it and it brings it up to date with his truly
gifted and very soul drenched voice.
This major ability to make something new shine again isn’t something you come by every day, it’s unique to only those with an elevated passion for singing not just their own material, but making sure justice is done to others.
The tracks he covers are a wide range of them from Randy Newman to Sir Elton John, so you have-to commend the bravery, even from a singer of great ability like Shiner. It’s a fine line to walk no matter who attempts to do what Shiner pulls of, with grand efforts to spare. Feel the heartache and pain in every note he squeezes and saps out of these original compositions.
“She’s Gone” by Hall & Oats gets a major reworking at about half-speed, while “I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know” follows more closely to the Donny Hathaway cover than the original by Al Kooper and Blood, Sweat & Tears. He shows his chops can keep up with Hathaway’s, a singer he’s always been influenced by as it is. And last but not least, female vocalist, Leslie Mendelson appears on “When Something Is Wrong With My Baby” by Sam & Dave, which brings out the best in everyone to be heard along with Shiner himself. The saxophone also helps carry this, one of two tracks she is featured on.
In-closing, this is one of the best cover albums you’ll ever hear, with a high-end production to give these songs all they deserve to preserve them and update the sound, as well as give Frank Shiner a chance to shine with high marks in his own light.
Photo by Randee St. Nicholas