Frank Lenz: The Last Temptation of Frank Lenz (independent, 2003)
The Last Temptation of Frank Lenz arrived in my mailbox and I was very excited. Frank has done so much in the indie music scene and his Hot Stuff is so great, the anticipation of popping his new disc in my player was all too much. The disc came in a cardboard sleeve with Frank’s own artwork in ball point pen. As you will see below, this disc did not disappoint….
Frank Lenz, a talented musician that has worked with the likes of Starflyer 59, Wayne Everett, and Pony Express, has now released his second solo album independently. This disc is a complete departure from The Hot Stuff and displays Frank’s ability to keep the quality of his music while being a diverse song writer. The Last Temptation … introduces the listener to a more personal side of Frank Lenz. Here, he tells stories of everyday experiences having to do with love, friendships, marriage, aspirations, elementary school and loneliness.
This album contains songs that are mid to slow tempo utilizing organs, electronic pops, jangles and oddities, acoustic guitars as well as stripped down percussion. The introductory track, a mingle of electronic “noises” and subdued vocals, invites the listener into the album creating anticipation for what is to follow. “Summer’s Coming Soon” really brings out Frank’s vocals. He is accompanied by organ, keyboard, and stripped down percussion, which accentuate his vocal styles perfectly. The highlight of the album for me is “God Bless You in the Pirate Hands.” A mid-tempo pop song laced with acoustic guitar and organ with complex melodies, layered vocals and patient, yet sophisticated, accents of percussion. “Lonely, Handy Chap” is the song which was included on the VBM music sampler Past and Present. It is pretty representative of the mid-tempo pop songs on the disc, but, when placed in the context of The Last Temptation … as a whole, I find that the song really comes to life. What seems to be Frank’s “ode to old timey” music comes in “Blood and Broken Glass.” An acoustic song with a melody similar to an old hymn mixed with the feel of a 70’s folk protest song.
The more melancholy side of the disc presents some fantastic, introspective moments. “The Saboteur” seems to be about death and marital regrets. It is a powerful song both lyrically and musically. Frank laces the song with confusing electronic sounds over acoustic guitar that sets the mood for its content.
The disc ends with an odd, 8 minute track of JP on the answering machine. On first listen, this track feels quite out of place. But, as I wrote this review and thought about it in the context of the other songs, I came to the conclusion that it highlights much of the content of the disc. What is more part of our stories than the answering machine that hooks us up with friends on a day to day basis?
Frank never overdoes it on this album. All the arrangements seem thought out and methodical. The melodies stick in your mind in a good way, having you humming even when the disc is not spinning. The album is glued tight together, with every song contributing in an effective way to the album as a whole. It is a shame that he is not going to release this on a label that can give him some distribution. More people need to know about this disc!