Bob Frank, Ride The Restless Wind, (Bow String Records, 2005)

I suppose of the entire music genre, apart from rock 'n roll, country & western music probably has one of the largest followings worldwide. So when a country & western singer-songwriter album popped up for review I jumped at it, albeit from a performer I had never heard before. If you have a passion for country music and have never heard Bob Frank before, believe me you won't be disappointed with this album. Bob is a great singer with grit in his voice. He has the ability to put feeling in to slower songs and rock when needed. He put me in mind of Merle Haggard amongst others. On this album, in his words, "Here's a gentle collection of songs, nothing too disconcerting" -- in my view an understatement if ever there was one!

Bob plays acoustic guitar and on this album is accompanied by Jim Monahan on guitar, bass, mandolin, dobro, mandola, baritone guitar, and harmony vocals, Gabe Witcher on fiddle, Tom Ball on harmonica and guitar, Ken Stange on keyboards, Bob Nichole on drums and percussion, with Jill Miles adding harmony vocals. The musicianship is excellent and backing has a nice 'down home' acoustic feel to it that I liked and I fancy you will too.

The album opens with 'Little Ol' Cabin Home' and continues with 'Monroe, Louisiana, Pipeliners Brawl'. Both are lively, with self-explanatory themes. Other themes for the various songs explore the usual sides of love, too much to drink, inner demons, and more. 'Within a Few Degrees' has message every father would feel if he sang it at his daughters wedding.

The pearls on the album are 'My Buckskin Lady', a song that already been covered by other performers, is about his favourite horse. Another is 'Luther Brown' a song about his hound dog. But my favourite has to be 'Painted Arrow', a song dedicated to the Native American Indian way of life and past history.

To sum up, this is a surprising album, although it sits firmly in the c/w mode. It has a smooth appeal with lyrics that are well thought out with music to match. For me this has been the first time I've heard Bob Frank, and I suspect it won't be the last.

Nice one Bob.

[Peter Massey]