Uncle Frank – Fountains
The United Kingdom has produced some of the finest soul, funk, and electronic dance music of the last quarter century and Leicester based Uncle Frank continues that tradition with talent and ambition to burn. The five man band isn’t merely content to work through a series of well worn musical poses in order to get across with the audience. Instead, they hit all of the sweet spots that listeners of the aforementioned styles crave from artists while still using the bass and drums to crack open a hole in your chest and figuratively touch your heart. Their second album Love Lion is due to come out in early 2017 and the first single from the release, “Fountains”, is an excellent introduction to the obvious quality awaiting the band’s fans. Moreover, it will definitely win over a whole new contingent of listeners for this highly creative and immensely soulful English band.
The front man Frank Benbini, one third of another popular band the Fun Lovin’ Criminals, has recruited four outstanding collaborators to make this project fly. The rhythm section duo of bassist Luke Bryan and drummer Junior Benbini bring a focused attack to their playing that never wavers throughout the whole song and keyboard player Jay Lynz never overplays while still laying down tasteful and exquisite sheets of color. The latter’s work in help flesh out the song’s melodic strengths is joined by Frank Benbini’s fantastic vocal melody. It strikes a notable contrast with the pounding rhythm section tempo. The song’s length perfectly fits the length and subject matter and helps prevent the band from taking any self-indulgent turns or missteps throughout the track.
Benbini’s vocal, as mentioned earlier, takes a wonderfully soulful approach to getting the song over. His voice is full of playfulness, soft-peddled yearning, and an obvious ear for projecting his voice against the musical color all around him. He knows, as well, when to hang back and let the music do its proverbial talking. The balance between the musical arrangement and his voice is so well done that it is the single biggest highlight of the performance. The lyrics, as well, help elevate this song far above the usual offerings in this style. He mixes clear cut imagery with universal generalities that any listener, no matter their age, will connect to and understand. The songwriting never wastes time with extra lines or phrases that might strike the audience as outright clichés either – there’s no clearer evidence for that than the originality of the song’s main image and title. It doesn’t get much better than this. Uncle Frank is set to take the soul and funk world by storm with a single this strong and it is safe to assume, this reviewer thinks, that the remainder of Love Lion will be every bit as good as this initial single. “Fountains” goes further than just pandering to the audience and hitting all the expected marks.