Album: Stewart Francke

Motor City Serenade, ZANE
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The Independent Culture

Like Remy Shand, Stewart Francke is a blue-eyed soul boy who has steeped himself so thoroughly in the details of his chosen obsession - in his case, the classic soul sound of his hometown Detroit - that his best work could almost pass as authentic. It helps if you have access to Motown's old Funk Brothers studio crew, as Francke does on a couple of cuts here, notably the title track. But there's a generosity of spirit and articulate social conscience in operation that sit as well on his shoulders as they did on those of Marvin, Curtis and Stevie, particularly on the protest-soul numbers such as "American Twilights" and the three-part suite that concludes the album, starting with "From Where Shall Comfort Come": "Let the four winds blow from the White House to the slum/ Good times are vanity when they're only good to some," sings Francke. Apart from the Southside Johnny-style R&B of "Upon Seeing Simone" and the melancholy "Better Get to Know Your Broken Heart", the album marshalls the requisite cla

Like Remy Shand, Stewart Francke is a blue-eyed soul boy who has steeped himself so thoroughly in the details of his chosen obsession - in his case, the classic soul sound of his hometown Detroit - that his best work could almost pass as authentic. It helps if you have access to Motown's old Funk Brothers studio crew, as Francke does on a couple of cuts here, notably the title track. But there's a generosity of spirit and articulate social conscience in operation that sit as well on his shoulders as they did on those of Marvin, Curtis and Stevie, particularly on the protest-soul numbers such as "American Twilights" and the three-part suite that concludes the album, starting with "From Where Shall Comfort Come": "Let the four winds blow from the White House to the slum/ Good times are vanity when they're only good to some," sings Francke. Apart from the Southside Johnny-style R&B of "Upon Seeing Simone" and the melancholy "Better Get to Know Your Broken Heart", the album marshalls the requisite clavinet, electric piano, organ, strings, horns and wah-wah guitar with consummate skill, building up a meticulous Motown repro sound best exemplified by "Motor City Serenade" itself, which celebrates Detroit's multi-faceted musical heritage.

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