Show Me Your Tears (SpinArt)
by Scott Deckman
With the beginning strum-n-thump of “Nadine” on Show Me Your Tears, his ninth solo record since leaving the incredible Pixies (and sixth billed with The Catholics), Frank Black evinces two things: 1) he’s plugging on with his live-to-two-track (and supposedly no-edit) formula which has probably lost him more fans than it has gained, and 2) he can still write kickass songs no matter the style or lyrical content.
After the stomping-yet-unrealized opener, things get better by growing sadder. This is Black’s breakup album, as he was recently divorced from wife Jean, inspiration for such Frank classics as “Speedy Marie” from Teenager of the Year. As such, there are many tunes in which heartache is not only in name – “This Old Heartache” – but in verse: “For I have seen the face of God, and I was not afraid/I have seen the face of God, and I have dearly paid.” That last couplet, from the mythic closer “Manitoba,” has a Pogues-y folk feel in which one can picture the zaftig singer (or his disembodied voice) spread over the rolling green hills of Ireland or Scotland. It’s Frank Black at his most intimate; he even coos one line like an indie-rock Elmer Fudd over understated guitar and drums. But it works, sounding eerily like something Frank DeVol would use for The Brady Bunch.
And like the last few records, The Rolling Stones still chart highly in the influence brigade; just check out the blues licks and honky-tonk feel of “Jaina Blues.” “Everything Is New” weaves a tale of woe equally pretty and allegorical, while the piano-laden “New House of the Pope” finds him so despondent, he naturally wonders “When Will Happiness Find Me Again?” I’ll tell ya where: “Massif Centrale,” where Black faces down his demons in another of his intricate sub-rock operas. Gravitating to Central France, he finds inspiration in change of scenery, a chick, and introspection. “It sure is cold here in the summer, I haven’t got her number/But the sky is very bright, and the sun is very clear” he sings, before switching gears, eventually building into a cathartic wail that’s familiar to the epiphany in all of us. Yes, space is gonna do him good.
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