Allen Finney – In a Blue Frame
CD: 11 Songs, 37 Minutes
Styles: Ensemble Blues, Roots, Americana, All Original Songs
Once in a blue moon, or In a Blue Frame, an album comes along that’s so perfectly balanced in multiple genres that it’s nothing short of remarkable. Sweden-based Allen Finney’s latest album fits like a glove into several categories: ensemble blues, roots, Americana, country, and jazz. With a down-home vibe and the vocals of a guitar-picking sage, Allen is akin to Merlin, casting a spell in whatever musical domain he favors. He plays great guitar, and his harmonica tells many tales. Joined by a chorus of multitalented musicians, he presents eleven original tracks that will worm their way into your head and heart. Some tunes could use a bit more razor-keenness, but for the most part, leave the stinging edge to Jimi Hendrix-style bands. Finney and company are here to entertain in an old-fashioned way in the second decade of the new millennium.
Says Allen on his MoJo Music website: ““I grew up in Sanford, Michigan. Small town, U.S.A. 1950s. Country Music and Rock and Roll. By the Tittabawassee river, the railroad tracks and the U.S. Highway 10, which ran smack through the middle of town. Two grocery stores, two gas stations, two bars, and five churches. Ice skating in the winter, baseball in the summer and fishing year ’round.
“I sang on the local radio and at talent shows and County Fairs when I was 5-6 years old in my little cowboy outfit. ‘Over The Prairie’. I still remember the lyrics. They told me later on that some talent scout, or maybe it was a bandleader wanted to take me to Hollywood, California, but my Mom wouldn’t let me go. Way to go, Mom! Sounds a bit creepy. Of course I made it out there later, Hollywood and all…One other thing. Look into the history and usage of words like honky-tonk and juke and jazz and mojo. Interesting stuff.” Indeed, as is Mr. Finney’s backstory.
Joining Allen (lead vocals, harmonica and guitar) are Robert Ivanson on bass and backing vocals; Björn Gideonsson on drums and percussion; Sebastian Nylund, Christer Lyssarides, and Max Schultz on additional guitars; Johan Lindström on steel guitar; Ted Hector on piano and organ; Mats Qwarfordt on harmonica and jaw harp; Mikael Augustsson on accordion; Per Sjöberg on bass tuba; Jana Persson and Britta Bergstrom on female backing vocals; Felicia Nielsen on lead vocals for “My Old Shoes,” and Hanna Francis on lead vocals for “Take the Change.”
One of Finney’s hallmarks is clever songwriting, as evidenced in the opening track, “Cloudy Sky Roll.” A creepy stranger shows up at Mama’s window, and she says, “Get your you-know-what away from my door. Don’t come back no more.” This song’s intro will hook you from its very first second. “Here I Am at 3 AM,” a jazzy number, is the perfect one for any insomniac. “Cold Quarter Moon,” number four, is a slow burner with a sinister soul and haunting harmonies. After that comes “A Guy Named Sly,” a cautionary tale about what might happen if you’re not hung up on “flowers and such” and remain a closed book to your partner. Oddly enough, the funniest song on the album is “You Ain’t Funny.” Everyone knows at least one wit who thinks s/he’s Robin Williams, but has the sense of humor of Lieutenant Haulk in Good Morning Vietnam. Last but not least comes “Walking On,” an anthem to continuing on life’s journey, come what may.
In a Blue Frame is, in short, a Swedish masterpiece!