Frankie Lee – American Dreamer (Rating 4 out of 5)

frankieleeAmerican Dreamer, the first proper full length record from cosmic cowboy troubadour Frankie Lee is the smile out loud leader in the clubhouse for summer album of the year. Everything about it makes you want to pick up a six-pack, load the buddies in the back of your El Camino, and hit the road for the beach.

From the opener “High and Dry” a take what life gives you ode to real life that would fit quite nicely on a John Mellencamp record, to “Queen of Carolina” that has early Neil Young written all over it, the stories that are told here are small time epic with highly relatable themes of lost loves, hardscrabble living, and dreams that seem always to be just out of reach.

There are a lot of influences to pluck out of the air on this one if you are so inclined.  The easy, atmospheric rhythms of the Jayhawks are front and center with “Know By Now” carrying a Yoko-less John Lennon vibe, “Black Dog” sounding more than a little like Tom Petty, and “East Side Blues” sounding more than a little like a Justin Townes Earle Song. The songwriting is excellent floating somewhere in the mold of Dave Alvin or Elvis Costello.

A favorite track is “Buffalo,” with a groove laid down that would make J.J. Cale proud, the song professes that there must be more to life than a factory job and a trophy wife. This is a serious bit of songwriting and this one along with the piano driven title track are just two sterling examples that should separate Frankie Lee from the rest of the singer songwriter pack for years to come.