The album starts with a song typical for Frankenreiter. Life, Love & Laughter speaks of exactly what its title claims to be about. But aside from the proverbial wisdoms, the song has a very catchy ring and positive feel about it. Frankenreiter might just well have another radio hit in his hands. The slightly more breezy Too Much Water is a pretty good song but never really pops like the album opener did. Frankenreiter’s vocals are supreme like always but the song doesn’t seem to reach its full potential. But on Come With Me, the enigmatic singer/songwriter finds his groove again. The song is not as upbeat as the previous songs, but the empathic and soulful delivery creates an intimate and personal connection between the song and the listener. Combine this with the strong lyrics and the character of the song which is carefully built up, becoming richer and richer as we go along. And by the time we reach the chorus, who cannot be convinced of the strength of this song.
Some classic pop and roots influences appear in Frankenreiter’s next song. It’s a nice try, but one that doesn’t really work out. Where the free, breezy approach, very laid-back and summery was what made Frankenreiter’s music so likeable, “Pass It Around” has a much slicker feel to it so far. The personal connection and relaxing atmosphere only rarely seeps through.
On Hit The Ground Running there’s a little more of that. It’s a little too polished but the song itself has A LOT of potential. A bit between Jason Mraz, James Morrison & some 70s pop/rock, exactly where Frankenreiter belongs, the sound of the song has more of a ‘free’ feeling. And on the collaboration with Grant Lee Philips, Mansions In The Sand, Frankenreiter reaches his best performance on this album. It reminds me of his early days, when I was impressed with how much his music was real music. How honest and pure it was. That’s the feeling I can have again on this song. It’s what Frankenreiter is all about. If you have seen this man perform live, you know what I mean. He just becomes one with his songs and on Mansions in the Sand I get that feeling again.
Someone’s Something has a lot of radio potential. It sounds a bit Richard Marx-ish at times, but Frankenreiter finds a good way to put his own mark on the song. The chorus is money in the bank if this song ever sees the light of day on the airwaves. It just has that quality of sticking in your head and make you sing along. Apart from that the song isn’t the strongest on the album, but it’s a nice addition.
A little more free-spirited funk-folk and creative songwriting appears on the album’s best track, Sing A Song. Classic Donavon Frankenreiter, just the way we like it. Served with sun, surf and a beach picnic, this is to be appreciated to its fullest. After two listens you can sing along and it will put a smile on your face. What more to say? After this highlight we reach the album’s title track. And like many title tracks, this is a typical album track. It does have Frankenreiter’s breezy approach but somehow it’s a little timid, or reserved. Not quite sure how to describe it. I would’ve liked to see a little more joy in the song, or if gone the other direction, more melancholy. It just stays somewhat in a ‘middle of the road’ kind of place.
Album closer Come Together was one of my least favorite songs on the album at first, but it’s a song that needs time to grow. If you listen to the build up and to Frankenreiter’s impressive vocal performance you find out little things in the song that start speaking to you. It went from not so much my favorite to one of my favorites on the album. Give Come Together some time to grow to appreciate it fully.
With “Pass It Around”, Frankenreiter delivered another solid album, but his previous two albums are more lasting when it comes to the music. “Pass It Around” has a good overall quality and even a few highlights, but “Move It By Yourself” with its funk-folk approach and the intimate debut both had something refreshing, it just sparked something. This is what I’m missing most of the time on this third album. I’m still very much appreciating Frankenreiter’s music and he’s also one of my favorite singer/songwriters when it comes to live performances. But I don’t think this album will rank too high among my top albums of the year. Songs like Hit The Ground Running, Come With Me & Sing A Song are the things I’m holding on to as I’m waiting for Donavon Frankenreiter’s 4th album. “Pass It Around” still is a good one to listen to while on (your way to) the beach and I’m sure we will hear much more from this interesting and likeable artist very soon.