Classic pop and rock music is probably the most recognizable mainstream music in the world, but while many of today’s artists can trace their influences to early rock n’ roll only a handful put that style into practice. Charlotte actually has a handful of artists practicing classic pop and rock in the spirit of the `60s and `70s and a few of those artists are involved in Randy Franklin’s new solo album, “Bloodlines.” Franklin has long led the Charlotte band Crisis as primary songwriter and frontman and his album was produced by the Spongetones’ Jamie Hoover and Eric Lovell of Gigi Dover and Big Love. All have a foot well planted in classic rock, pop, and soul.
Although “Bloodlines” begins with the jangle of Mersey beat guitar, a walking bassline, and echoing harmonies (on the song "This Girl") - elements that reoccur throughout the record - Franklin doesn’t just hit on one style. “Ready” sounds like Tom Petty, who’s mentioned in the chorus, but it also rides the blurry line between country and rock as if Steve Earle was backed by the Byrds. The bluesy grooves of the snappy Dead-like “Papua New Guinea” would get a jam band crowd bouncing on the lawn. “She Wore Diamonds” is a darker guitar rock track about a stripper that you can easily imagine playing under low lights at the Double Door late, late at night.
The harmonies of the summery “Haley” bring to mind the Beach Boys, while “Mabel Rae” is a classic country western-meets-Laurel Canyon tale of chasing doomed fame in Hollywood. Classic harmonies and rich backing vocals abound throughout these subtle stylistic changes. Franklin has surrounded himself with a stellar local cast including vocalists Dover, Hoover, and duet partner Carrie Marshall. But sometimes those voices and instruments are actually just layers of Franklin himself like on the final track “The Face of a Child.”
“Bloodlines” also features supporting players like bassist Ed Leitch, who has played with Franklin since their days in the Providence Drive Band. That experience and ease comes through on the record.
If you’re looking for original music that trades in the sort of classic, harmony-driven pop and rock n’ roll you might’ve grown up with, Franklin celebrates the release of “Bloodlines” Saturday, July 13 at Vintner Wine Market at The Arboretum at 7 p.m. Jackie Moseley will open.