Singer/songwriters have been dominating the story in 2021, but unless you’ve heard what Frank Jurgens is mustering up in his new self-titled album, I don’t think you’ve heard some of the best the underground has to offer just yet. Jurgens’ lyrical wit is on-point like few others in songs like “See It Coming Down” and “Under Jacksons Bridge” while his instrumental arrangements for “Who is to Blame” and “47 Boardwalk Lane” are sublimely thoughtful, and while he possesses a lot of the same qualities his closest competition on either end of the musical spectrum, he’s using them in a way that is certainly one of a kind on every level. He’s pop, but it doesn’t sound like it’s been derived from some other source within the industry.
“That Bottle and Me” and “Emily” are probably the most complex tracks to break down in this record, and not because of their rhythmic offerings alone. There’s a lot to suggest that Jurgens was working out of much larger jam sessions when he compiled this record, but I don’t think he was compressing content just for the sake of moving a couple more units. Instead, he’s giving us the best elements of his artistry inside of a neatly constructed LP that is neither threatening to newcomers nor repellant towards longtime fans who are familiar with a specific kind of sound. He’s experimenting with his limits but doing it in a manner that makes his music just as accessible as it was in the first place.
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“Not Getting Outta Here Alive,” “Whole Lotta Blue,” and “Just Another One of Lifes Little Things” present us with an adventurousness that I would love to see and hear out of Frank Jurgens’ output in the future, and I doubt I’m the only critic commenting as much this autumn. When he’s trying something new or just going out on a limb with his lyrics, it’s like we’re getting something almost as profound as a live performance would be, if not a touch more because of the sonic amenities a recording studio can provide. I’ll have to see him for myself to know for sure, but going off of this eponymous work, I think it would be worth my while to seek out his stage play in the future.
Frank Jurgens doesn’t play by your rules - he’s got an ear for the fundamentals in pop songwriting, and he’s putting them to work in this album like nobody’s business. “Brown Suitcase,” “Who is to Blame,” “See it Coming Down” and “Emily” could have made a must-listen EP, but instead they’re joined by such an awesome cast of supporting characters in these additional songs that it’s hard to imagine listening to this record through without hearing every song it includes. Pop is such a volatile genre in music, and if there’s something that we can learn about its virtues from listening to an LP like Frank Jurgens, it’s that sometimes keeping things pretty simple can result in the most sophisticated of results.
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