Franc Robert – Ride the Iron Road | Album Review

francrobertcd Franc Robert – Ride the Iron Road

 Blue Chihuahua Records

  14 tracks/40 minutes

  Hailing from Florida’s West Coast, Franc Robert offers up 11 original songs and 3 covers in this very traditional acoustic blues album. His finger picking and guitar work are superb.  It’s just him and his guitar here as Robert bares it all in this production. 

 I found the guitar playing to be very solid and well done.  His original songs are a breath of fresh air.  Good topics, lyrics that are well thought out and, well, lyrical, and well-constructed.  There are some very impressive new songs here that are outstanding.  Robert also has an interesting approach to his vocals.  He is sort of breathy and works at getting an old time, authentic sound.  He sings predominantly though his head and one can almost hear his sinuses resonate as he gasps and wails out the lyrics.  It’s a little odd at first but it grew on me!

 The covers are St. James Infirmary, Mississippi Blues and Railroad Blues.  The covers are pretty much straight up renditions of the traditional songs.  He infuses his vocal style on all three; his voice begins to sound almost desperate with his breathy and interesting style here on the covers and on the originals.  He shows he can play these tunes with the best of them on these covers.

I really preferred the original songs.  The opening cut “Honey What’s Wrong” evokes the style of early Delta masters like Son House.  He does this song orally, accompanied only with hand claps in a very old and cool style.  The slide work on the title track that follows this is a stark contrast to the bare opening number and he plays his heart out.  “Chihuahua Blues” is a somewhat humorous take on a song that reminded me of Robert Johnson. The next two cuts “These Low Down Blues” and “Dem Devil Bones”have a much more modern sound (perhaps the 50s and 60’s) have a more modern sound.  “Mississippi On My Mind” and “Tax Time Blues” are more traditional; I enjoyed the latter statement on the IRS.  “Travellin’ Bluesman” is a little more modernistic but “Treat Me Right” and “Never Felt More Alone” return back to the Delta.  The closer, “Sunday Morning,” is a beautiful and inspirational slow finger picking instrumental that is just a joy.

I enjoyed Franc Roberts guitar work and his vocals grew on me after a few listens.  He’s working to present his music in an authentic style.  He’s written some excellent new songs and I think he’s got something here that acoustic fans will enjoy.

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