Franklin Delano Like a Smoking Gun in Front of Me

Not one to soothe the traditional sensibility, the latest from Italy’s Franklin Delano veers on and off of the genre highway with off road appropriations of style. The elements here range from country to blues to grunge, mixed with a surfeit of noise and minimalist silence. The album is punctuated by calms and storms, interludes of chaos followed by more traditional song structures. The double vocals of Paolo Iocca and Marcella Riccardi are versatile sirens that add spook to already haunting melodies. The highly textured songscape is simultaneously peaceful, beautiful and depressing. Will we never tire of this melancholic ambivalence? For the most part it’s a well-balanced mix that's dreamy but also demanding. The musical weather patterns are hypnotic, but moments of startling clarity amidst the stormy dissonance provide ample reward. Producer Brian Deck (Modest Mouse, Iron & Wine) applies soundboard treatments, which add depth to the band’s already complex instrumentation. Overall, this un-American take on American folk music is enchanting and well worth the challenge. (File 13)