John Orr Franklin is a multi-tasking force of nature. Not only is he a talent musician and singer/songwriter, but a recording engineer, producer, photographer, videographer, graphic artist, web designer, and he pens an informative blog on all aspects of the music business for aspiring artists. And I suppose if you asked him real nice he might add a room addition to your house.
Just kidding John, I've journeyed that same road, wearing many hats - doing whatever it takes to get my Ghosts Of Pompeii projects to market. It ain't easy.
But unlike my musical career which is in Limbo, John Orr Franklin not only persevered the rigors of the struggling independent one-man band when he released his self-produced first CD "Pathways" in 2007, he took that next step and assembled a performing band, taking his music to the road.
Franklin then pumped out enough tunes for the 2009 follow-up album "Transformation" and created a stage show presentation complete with video shorts to correspond with the music, creating a multimedia audio/visual experience at his live shows. He followed up "Transformation" with the ambitious 2010 concept album "Soldier On" featuring drummer Gavin Harrison of Porcupine Tree.
Bringing us to 2011 and the release of his latest project, "Lighthouse".
"Lighthouse" is a collection of 11 melodic hook laden tunes that in another age ... back when FM radio was relevant ... would have easily cracked the Top 20 market. The music runs the gambit from raucous high energy rockers to moody melancholy ballads, with stand-out killer tracks like "Lighthouse" and "A Different Path" which stick with you hours afterward.
The tracks "Infinity" and "Adrift" bring to mind the later period Pink Floyd albums "A Momentary Lapse Of Reason" and "The Division Bell" as well as David Gilmore's solo album "On An Island". While the soulful guitar-work on "Energy" smacks of Dire Straits fretmeister Mark Knopfler. And the track "Shine" has an 80s' Genesis feel to it, reminiscent of their tune "Me And Sarah Jane".
Franklin lists his musical influences as bands like Porcupine Tree, The Alan Parsons Project, Pink Floyd, The Beatles, U2, Jeff Beck, Marillion, Rush, and Asia - and many of those artist can be found in his musical styling ... especially Hogarth era Marillion and the John Payne era Asia. But another artist that immediately springs to mind upon hearing his material is the late brilliant British singer/songwriter Duncan Browne who after leaving the symphonic/glam band Metro went on to produced two kick-ass prog leaning albums "The Wild Places" and "Streets Of Fire".
Joining Franklin (Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards, Drum Programming) on "Lighthouse" is a collection of talented musicians to augment his songwriting skills: Ryan Redfern (Bass Guitar), Chris Cribb (Keyboards and Backing Vocals), Roberto Palladino (Drums) and Brandon Aly (Drums).
Recommended and looking forward to future releases from John Orr Franklin.
Reviewed by Joseph Shingler on December 18th, 2011