Thursday, March 14, 2013

Weeks Later: Franco Reyes' Soul (Adventurer)

Photo by Mark Perez
It's been a couple of weeks since the release of "Soul Adventurer", and it still hasn't loosened its grip on a lot of people's ears (I know mine are still hooked). Yes, it's that awesome of an album it deserves another post in this blog. There are certainly a lot of areas the review failed to cover, something that has become apparent after numerous "tweaks" since it was published. This post aims to address all the pent-up compulsions once and for all.

As already stated, it's been several weeks, and any person who has consistently listened to the same album over and over will surely notice the bells and whistles, quirks, and the occasional dud. Speaking of duds, I have the same opinion of Razor since day one, that is - it's quite underwhelming considering it's surrounded by tracks that are above-average at the very least. This one is just plain average, reminiscent of the craft work of one Dave Grohl and company in the Foo Fighters' "One By One" album where most songs seem bored with themselves. It's a one off.

Then there's the overuse of "jah" in lieu of the more conventional "the" in the chorus of Uprising. One or two strategically placed jahs would have sufficed, any more seems like taking the rasta vibe a bit too seriously. Well, the song actually goes all-out rasta by the end so I guess all the left-handed passing of the doobie (or dutchie, or kouchie) was warranted.

Also, what's up with A Prayer? Was the line "then it just hit me" a conscious stylistic decision or a gaping deficiency in subject-verb agreement?

Nitpicking aside, yes, this is still quite the amazing album. Songs like Renewal have slowly risen from the rubble to become one of the top tracks, at first disguising itself as a mellow track with the signature reggae up-stroke over a rare Franco falsetto (a first), but halfway through, listeners are shown subtle signs of riffage that eventually explode into one of the heaviest, swirling riffs this album has to offer - all over the squeals of the lead guitar on wah. This particular section of the album is just pure zoned-out unadulterated rock paradise - something I always knew someone like Reyes is capable of with eyes closed. It's pretty hard to put on paper, but you can definitely feel it while listening to the song (go do it now if you haven't).

Blame is practically the musical representation of red wine, vastly improved after more than ten years since it first debuted as a "Frank!" song. Since its inception, the verses have been reprogrammed to sound starker than the original, giving off a sense of urgency over the original's slightly whiny grunge melancholy. Despite the changes, the chorus is fine untouched. It's as effective and catchy as it was, and could go down as one of the best choruses in the album, if not in Reyes' entire catalog. Hefty claims, yes. And it certainly gives Across The Milky Way a run for its money.

It's astonishing that no other Filipino rock musician could step up to the musical plate the way Reyes does, and it's been a long wait before he showed up. Sure, there are the greats and some others who have the potential, but they are nowhere near the same level of polish and sophistication as Reyes musically. He may not be a chart-topper like the Eraserheads once were, but he has already achieved what most musicians, including the Eraserheads, could only dream of.

Do you know of any Filipino musicians that could give Franco a run for his money? Post them in the comments.

No comments: