Sing A Song“Don’t look back, it won’t do any good /
Don’t look ahead, you’ll just be misunderstood”

So says Donavon Frankenreiter in the opening seconds of the first song (“Life, Love, & Laughter”) on his new album of Jack Johnson-lite surf music Pass It Around. It’s the kind of album that you want to love for the sheer lighthearted vibes that Frankenreiter sends out and the laid back quality of his music. And it’s the kind of album that gives you something new to listen to each time through. But it’s also the kind of album that starts to make less sense the more you listen to the lyrics… though I love the night club style rhythms of the music on “Too Much Water,” I’m still trying to figure out what “Too much water in one place, not enough somewhere else” is referring to in the chorus. But lapses in clarity are easy to overlook with Frankenreiter’s raspy Shel Silverstein meets Ben Harper vocal stylings and his infectiously dreamy rhythms.

Frankenreiter seems to be in his best territory when he goes melancholy. “Your Heart” and “Someone’s Something,” both of which are instantly enjoyable, provide the best examples of this. It’s his emotional openness that makes these sadder songs work – this same openness makes his references to his heart as female (“You took my heart, did you know you’d thrown her?” he pleads in “Someone’s Something” and similarly “My heart has taken all she can” in the title track) tenable and even moving. But the best song on the album is the peacefully pseudo-philosophical “Sing A Song.” Opening with a Ben Harper-ish beat – expertly provided by percussionist Luis Conte – this lighthearted track begs you to “Take your time, don’t live so fast, you’ve got to sing a song if you want to make it last.” It’s exactly the kind of anthem that a surfer turned musician like Frankenreiter can sell perfectly – and those potent harmonica solos by G. Love don’t hurt either.

The real anthem here, though, comes on the final track “Come Together” when he declares “We should be together, maybe forever, we don’t need no enemies.” Frankenreiter may not have the lyrical depth of longtime friend and fellow surfer turned musician Jack Johnson, but he’s got enough good vibes to make listening to his music more than just a passing fad.

Zach’s Rating: B-
Perfect For: Mellow surf-shack music
Stay Away if: You’re not that into Jack Johnson
If you only buy one track, make it this one: Sing A Song

To purchase Pass It Around, visit Amazon

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