February 11, 2019 Jon Fratelli – Bright Night Flowers (Album Review)
During the hiatus of The Fratellis that began in 2009, Frontman Jon Fratelli (lead vocals, guitar, piano) embarked on a solo career. Releasing his debut album Psycho Jukebox in 2011, now 8 years later, amidst the Scottish Rock band’s return to activity, Jon Fratelli still took the time to work on the follow-up to his first offering. The result of this is the forthcoming LP entitled Bright Night Flowers.
Coming a little less than a year following The Fratellis’ 2018 album In Your Own Sweet Time, Bright Night Flowers is scheduled be released on Friday, February 15, 2019, through Cooking Vinyl Records. Anticipated by fans, Jon Fratelli’s sophomore addition to his oeuvre is a departure from the relatively simplistic, Garage Rock/Psychobilly styling of its predecessor. In Bright Night Flowers, Jon Fratelli delves more into his arty and folky Country/Neoclassicism side, favoring ornate arrangements and Country/Folk-associated instruments over the typical electric guitar.
Recorded in Scotland during the summer of 2018 and self-produced by Fratelli with the assistance of his friend, Musician and Producer Stuart McCredie (Simple Minds, Echo & The Bunnymen), the latest collection consists of nine compelling new tracks. It all starts with the lush, relaxing six-and-a-half-minute “Serenade in Vain,” which may be regarded as a fusion of Classical Pop and Country Folk. The mood then turns even slower and more romantic with the loungy, ballroom swing of the title track, “Bright Night Flowers.” Another heartrending song comes next with the blue-eyed, starry, soulful, piano-based ballad “After a While,” whose string accompaniment can melt the hearts of a thousand lovers.
Moving right along, Country-tinged midtempo plays next—“Evangeline,” which harks to similar countryside excursions by Elvis Costello (“Alison”). The ensuing piano song in waltz rhythm, “Rolling By,” on the other hand, is a seeming sonic homage to John Lennon’s “Imagine.” And then there is the mandolin/slide guitar–flavored “Crazy Lovers Song”—ultimately securing Jon Fratelli’s place in the pantheon of Baroque/Alternative Country singers the likes of Chris Isaak (“Wicked Game”) and Lyle Lovett (“This Old Porch”).
Offering a chance of pace, “Dreams Don’t Remember Your Name” features a slightly syncopated rhythm, subtle staccato melodies, and dribbling beats sway the listener into a sweet swoon. Thereafter, the penultimate track, “In From the Cold,” is another display of piano balladry—inspired, impassioned, soul-stirring, and a bit playful like a lullaby. Finally, Jon Fratelli wraps up Bright Night Flowers with the sparse, misty serenade of “Somewhere,” complementing the album’s similar-themed opener.
Bright Night Flowers is certainly a pleasant revelation. It is a peek into a markedly different musical facet of Jon Fratelli. That said, they flow in quite a gentle, organic motion – so it stands to reason that nearly all of these songs were composed by Fratelli on piano. Anyone whose orientation to this chameleon of an artist is the music of The Fratellis will, no doubt, stop in his or her tracks while listening to Bright Night Flowers to ensure that they are indeed playing the singer-songwriter’s new album. For these reasons, Cryptic Rock gives the album 4 out of 5 stars.