Pic by Randee St. Nicholas
CD REVIEW: Lonely Town, Lonely Street by Frank Shiner
Frank Shiner released the covers album Lonely Town, Lonely Street in 2016, a great collection of covers which includes a plethora of terrific live in-studio interpretations of songs anyone either knows or can instantly relate to as he brings them back with a freshness somehow not found on the originals. Accompanying Shiner is also Leslie Mendelson who sings on a couple of classic with him, and combines the two award-winning voices for an amazing spotlight which they both shine under. These covers are also joined by a cover of the Christmas song “Please Come Home For Christmas” by Charles Brown.
This Christmas treat is also marked by playing in shopping stores, at Macy’s, Bloomindales and Kohls, this holiday season. It will be heard by shoppers, but it should also be heard by the masses beyond that too. Frank Shiner turns in a soul stirring vocal that makes it a more modern holiday hit. He comes from a background in theater and even television, and it helps him in his ability to reinterpret songs in his own way to give them a huskier vocal sound that adds a certain depth to them you can easily appreciate. If you’re a lover of progress, you might even like this better than the original. I rate it on par.
It also goes well with the aforementioned-album he titled after the Bill Wither’s song, also covered on the release. It starts out with one of the best tracks on it, that is, especially if you like The Young Rascals. You’ll be happy to hear him to that group justice on “How Can I Be Sure” as it comes on very strong at a time of need for such an important subject matter concerning the times. Constant change and how to deal with it is what this song is essentially about, as the lyrics give it away within the first verse. Shiner applies his own spin to find it reinterpreted with his charm to pay homage to 1967 staple.
And if that doesn’t grab you, there’s so much more to thrill it’s like a who’s who of covers by artists of the past and even some more contemporaries. He takes you through a cover of “She’s Gone” by Hall & Oats” which definitely stands out as one of the better interpretations, as well as the title track “Lonely Town, Lonely Street” which blues lovers can sink their ears into his version of and get everything they’re looking for and more. Shiner is also joined by another award-winning singer, Leslie Mendelson to back some songs that are already backed by top notch musicians.
“When Something Is Wrong With My Baby” is a duet that was recorded in the studio with Shiner and Mendelson looking at each other, live as it happened. And that is how it was recorded with all the players on this fantastic album. She also appears on Van Morrison’s “I Will Be There” before some more tracks take it out, which include covers of “Shine On Through” by Sir Elton John, which he adds a nice gospel spin to. There’s also a moment for Justin Timberlake’s “Drink Me Away” for younger listeners to soak up, and it’s every bit as good as anything else on offer here. And if you like Randy Newman, you’re bound to love this album too.
by Jeff Turner
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