Pete Francis - Iron Sea And The Cavalry
Former Dispatch member Pete Francis and Scrapper Records dropped Iron Sea and the Cavalry just a couple of months ago, his fifth solo effort now. I am unfamiliar with his previous work, but from what I've read it would seem his backround is rather diverse musically, having worked in several different genres and styles and with a variety of musicians with equal amounts of experience. However, Iron Sea and the Cavalry is a much more standard, safely-played affair than that backround would allude to. Let's explore why...
For starters is the sound itself; very easy-listening, melodic rock that utilizes above all else mood to transfer it's message. Francis' songwriting is plenty good, there are some real nice tracks throughout the album. But it is very standard roots-oriented rock, that at times will hit highs but mostly plays it safe at a rudimentary pace. The first half of the album is strong with opener "Johnny Ocho's Lullaby" and some catchy hooks on the guitar, along with some sweet vocal harmonizing with them. "Armies of Angels" is very close to a modern country radio hit in many ways; the twang of the guitars, the church organ pulsating beneath the generic signatures and bland progression. I prefer the 2nd half of the disc: the title track and "Stowaway" in particular are pretty good.
I'm very cut in half by Iron Sea and the Cavalry; while the music projects wonderful atmosphere and a more elegant blue-collar (if such a contradiction of terms is possible) songwriting approach, it never really takes you past the shallows of the seas it rode in on. I will keep an eye out for past Pete Francis releases to see if they compare, but for this album, I can't do more than recommend it to fans of Ryan Adams or, at a long shot, Bob Dylan. Think rootsy backround meets AOR approach and you've got a good idea of what to expect.
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