Longtime session and touring vocalist, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Franky Perez expands his songwriting and emotional terrain on his fifth solo album.
Franky Perez has worked with an impressive array of artists over the past two decades, including Ringo Starr, Joe Cocker, Slash, Darius Rucker, Steven Tyler, Scars On Broadway, and the Finnish metal band Apocalyptica. He has had his own solo career on the side, as many hired guns do, but on ‘Crossing The Great Divide‘ he aspires to return to the singer-songwriter he was at the beginning of his career. The quieter, thoughtful songwriter who belongs in an intimate club is tangled up with the brash hard rock frontman from Vegas who belongs on a stadium stage. The former seems to be winning in the struggle. There’s a certain ragged edge to most solo singer-songwriters the more stripped back their sound becomes, but there are no ragged edges here whatsoever. Perez produced, engineered, and played most or all (90%, he says) of the instruments himself, yet the production is slick, down to the Queen-like harmonies and power ballads.
Stylistically Perez comes from the ’70s and ’80s powerful rock-belter lineage of heavyweight singers with massive presence, like Dennis DeYoung, Tommy Shaw, Sammy Hagar, Lou Gramm, and Paul Rodgers. In addition to classic hard rock, Perez seems also to be influenced by Van Morrison and Springsteen and their respective R&B roots, which drive many of the songs. Visually he is the archetype of the biker poet/troubadour (his music has been featured on ‘Sons of Anarchy’) and the tattooed bad boy — but in recovery now. There are glimpses of that street poetry in his lyrics, like those on his tongue-in-cheek, effusive, Darius Rucker-like, romantic tribute, ‘Samurai,’ and the superior ‘What Gives You The Right,’ ‘Shadow Boxer,’ and ‘The Great Divide.’ His clever lines stand out: “Let’s kiss like we’re going off to war.” ’90’s Love Song’ is just what the title indicates: a fun, hook-filled, light-hearted track. ‘California 1976’ is a well-crafted, bittersweet goodbye to the Golden State. The Latin influence on ‘Illumination‘ is spectacular, a direction he should seriously consider continuing on future releases.
Released along with the album is a documentary of the same name that Perez made chronicling his travels on his motorcycle across America during the COVID lockdown and the many people he met and performed for, celebrities and overworked healthcare workers alike.