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CD REVIEW: Frank Emerson – There’s a Story Told
By Chip Withrow - 11/12/2005 - 01:20 PM EST

Artist: Frank Emerson
Album: There’s a Story Told
CD Review: Frank Emerson’s There’s a Story Told has a warm, immediate feel. You can put on this disc, sit back with a pint and imagine yourself in comfortable tavern listening to him pick his guitar and wrap his rich voice around these songs.

Frank introduces each song with a short tale spoken in his brogue-ish voice. As he says at the beginning of the cd, that’s also what he does when he performs. It’s a folksy touch, and music historians might get a kick out of the information.

But most of the songs speak for themselves. Frank covers a spectrum that runs from Irish reels to ballads to jazz to love songs. One constant throughout is Frank’s guitar: he’s a heck of a player. Except for the occasional tin whistle, it’s all the accompaniment he needs.

Starting off an album with a looking-back-at-life Irish weeper might seem like an odd choice, but “Carrickfergus” is a heartfelt, expressive number. That’s followed by the spry “Lannigan’s Ball,” one of Story’s highlights.

Frank’s originals fit nicely within this album of cover versions. “'Tween the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea” is a spirited seafaring ballad buoyed by a jaunty tin whistle. “Drink!” is, as its title not-so-subtly suggests, an ode to the camaraderie found in taverns.

The jazzy numbers “Sweet Savannah Sunday” and “Dream a Little Dream of Me” (the Mamas and Papas did a well-known version) are fun. Frank’s vocal work on “Dream” is smooth and charming. Picture yourself taking your pint at an outside table on a warm, breezy night as you listen to these.

Frank is a patriotic guy, and his version of “God Bless America” is stirring. His guitar turns it into a folk song, and his voice does this classic justice. This rendition would have had even more power if it had been the last song on the album.

There’s a Story Told is a good sampler of how a basic one guitar/one voice combination can work in a variety of genres. It’s also a good indication that Frank Emerson is a confident onstage entertainer.

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