Franklin Bruno Kiss Without Makeup

For over ten years, Franklin Bruno has been making music as part of Nothing Painted Blue, and with quite a healthy solo career that has produced one previous album and a wealth of singles and compilation tracks. His second solo album isn't really a huge departure from everything that's gone before and he hasn't been blessed with the most expressive voice, but that doesn't prevent Kiss Without Makeup from being one of his best. Kiss Without Makeup sounds like a solo record - the scantiness of the arrangements and its overall low-key feel exclude it from being just another NPB record. But in saying that, he also covers quite a bit of ground - there are songs with a country influence, a touch of jazz and plenty of pop too, which makes for an album that doesn't get dull. He even revisits some older songs, including the exquisite "Clean Needle," none of which sound out of place among the newer material. What really sets apart Bruno's work from so many other peoples' are the lyrics - he has a unique turn of phrase that is far too scarce these days. His keen ear for putting together strings of literate words in an unconventional way makes every song full of word play and witticisms. And while songs run the gamut of subjects and emotions, the majority of them will have you at least smiling a little bit; even his pessimism and cynicism is entertaining. (Absolutely Kosher)