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CD REVIEW: Frank Emerson - "Safe in the Harbor"
By David Lockeretz - 09/30/2002 - 06:55 PM EDT

Artist: Frank Emerson
Album: "Safe in the Harbor"
CD Review: Frank Emerson is someone I'd love to have as a drinking partner. When I listen to his soulful renditions of maritime ballads and parlor songs, I can almost taste a rich, creamy pint of Guinness. It's enough to make a Jewish kid from Boston want to become a drunken sailor.

Emerson's attempt to fuse Irish music over Western pop/rock beats is not entirely successful. Often times the drums and bass sound like karaoke tracks and Emerson's robust baritone seems a little out of place. The dynamics and indeed most of the overall production tend to be a little vanilla. But the songs are so enjoyable that one doesn't notice all that much.

"Mary Ellen Carter" tells the story of men remembering a sunken ship and talking about how she will "rise again." The rousing chorus, with its drinking-hall vocals, might become a modern classic of the genre. "Where Do You Go To My Lovely?" is a pretty and introspective number with vivid, thought provoking lyrics. "Safe in the Harbor" is an emotional song written in memory of the late Stan Rogers, who wrote much of the material on this CD, including "Mary Ellen Carter."

I can't imagine Emerson achieving much mainstream success with his work in this highly specialized genre, but his honest, passionate brand of storytelling cannot be ignored. The timeless quality of these songs will outlast dozens of flavors of the month.

For more information about Frank Emerson, visit www.frankemerson.com.


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