For Michael Franks’ enthusiasts it’s been a long four years waiting for new music. For the past 30 years, this soft-spoken vocalist has given his fans music that encompasses descriptive, playful words which paint a beautiful picture. This CD is no exception. Recorded on Rhino Records, released through his website in 2003 and to retail just recently, Watching the Snow is a winter-themed CD of ten original tracks.
The mood of this CD is completely set just by looking at the cover art. The beautiful winter scenes were photographed by Michael Franks himself and feature the area around his NY State farmhouse. Joining Michael on this CD are names you may remember from seeing him perform live. His long time musical director/pianist, Charles Blenzig, Veronica Nunn (vocals), and Chris Hunter (sax and flute) add a familiar blend of melodies that Franks’ fans have come to recognize immediately.
The opening track, “The Way We Celebrate New Year’s,” is signature Franks with metaphors, innuendoes, and a soft, relaxing melody. The winter theme and vision of cozy fires and soft snowflakes are enhanced through the title song “Watching the Snow” and carried through in “Said the Snowflake.” Two very emotion-filled tracks are “My Present” and “The Kiss.” Both of these songs make you just want peacefulness with the person who fills your heart.
As always Michael finds playful, fun lyrics to break up the tranquil feel from the rest of this CD. Listening to “I Bought You a Plastic Star (for Your Aluminum Tree)” makes you laugh (reminiscent of Popsicle Toes), and “Christmas in Kyoto” shares Michaels Franks’ love of Japan, mixed with an old-time jazz/swing/big band melody. “Island Christmas,” a duet with Veronica Nunn, features a lively piano, bass, and flute solo. You can almost feel the ocean breeze.
This CD is a must have for any Michael Franks fan and truly captures the feel of the holidays, of winter, under a blanket of white…or under a comforter while Watching the Snow.
- Bonnie Schendell