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Michael Franks: Time Together

| June 13, 2011 | 17 Comments

Michael Franks, the ever-artful singer/songwriter and harvester of the most delectable musical passion fruit has returned just in time for summer with his 18th offering, Time Together. Like James Taylor, Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Paul Simon, Michael Franks possess a unique gift for dreaming up eloquent literary imagery and combining it with the right musical accents to create timeless masterpieces. With his signature laidback vocal style and sexy/witty/cool songwriting, Michael Franks is a musician’s musician. His songs have been covered by everyone from Ringo Starr, Patti LaBelle and Natalie Cole to Diana Krall and Jason Mraz, who touts Franks as his hero.

Suitably inspired and languorous, Time Together unfolds like a summer vacation—worldly word travels from New York to Paris and Egypt via Samba Air without leaving your Adirondack chair. Thematically it’s part travelogue and part autobiography with a taste of soci-political observation. “Summer in New York,” is a musical travel brochure, setting up a hip east coast swing itinerary to the modern pulse of a lounge club mix tape, while “Samba Blue” is a sexy sax and guitar-kissed reminiscence of a foreign affair in Paris. Similarly, “I’d Rather Be Happy Than Right,” is sage advice set to a soundtrack like Wes Montgomery meets Tom Jobim, while “My Heart Said Wow” is a short but sweet treat. The dreamy summer’s end meditation “If I Could Make September Stay”—with adoring bows to ornithology and a piano-shadowing-guitar intro that brings to mind early Joni Mitchell—will keep enchanted fans mooning in front of their picture windows for several rounds on repeat.

Longtime fans have been following Michael Franks petty much since his second album The Art of Tea in 1975. A founding father on the Mount Rushmore of the Quiet Storm radio format, Michael mesmerized lovers of his seamless blend of jazz, pop and blue-eyed rhythm and blues with evocative classics like “Popsicle Toes,” “Eggplant,” “The Lady Wants To Know,” “When the Cookie Jar is Empty,” “Underneath the Apple Tree,” “Baseball,” “Tahitian Moon,” “Tell Me All About It,” “When Sly Calls,” “Rainy Night in Tokyo,” “When I Give My Love to You,” “String of Pearls,” “I Love Lucy” and “Monk’s New Tune.” Following a one-off CD for Windham Hill (Barefoot on the Beach featuring the notorious “Mr. Smooth”), Michael started his own Sleeping Gypsy imprint to self-publish Watching the Snow, which was followed by Rendezvous in Rio.

Michael continues to perform selectively around the globe. He has also sold pieces of poetry at to benefit the national animal welfare organization Hearts United For Animals. It is just such poetry that finds its way into gems like this album’s 8-minute closer “Feather From an Angel’s Wing” which he set aside for fretless bassist Mark Egan to arrange and bump all involved into the sunset. “At first I just had the title but no words,” Michael concludes. “At this point in my career, its fun to try to write a song that summarizes the things you feel you’ve learned without becoming dogmatic.”

Like the word that will forever most divinely describe his all around artistry—sublime—Michael Franks’ Time Together will seduce fans like eyelids slowly opening to the sunlight of the first day of summer.

—Article provided by Shanachie Entertainment

Category: Be Heard Jukebox Archive

Comments (17)

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  1. Duks says:

    Michael never disappoints…his smooth voice is almost instrumental on it’s own and it’s what keeps me addicted. With Franks you rip the cd package and just sit back, relax and enjoy the sound.

    You’ve done it again…!

    Brilliant stuff…


  2. Thrilled to see Chuck Loeb is on the stage and record with Micheal Franks. I wonder if Larry Carlton and Chuck can call me for the gigs they can’t make!!

  3. Eric Cray says:

    High 5 Michael Franks. You deliverd another great piece of art. In my long-time fan opinion, Time Together is about Maturity. The artist, the lyrics, the beats, the licks, the listeners, the familar brazilan sound, and the artful placement of trumphet over sax — brought it all Together for me. It’s like part 2 and 3 of back in the day. The hummingbird did not fold its wings, fallen angels have wings worth collecting, and in “My heart said wow”, the love collison is handled sweeter then back in the day. This work has asked us to listen with Mature ears. My favorite ” Feather’s from an angel’s wing”, has a powerful message and cross-over appeal – if shorten by DJ’s. High 5!

  4. Peter Harding says:

    Agree with MB especially and others. I too have grown up with MF since the Art of Tea. It is nearly all I play in the car on the way to work. Single minded no and have many other artists but I do appreciate pure musical genius and each song is so finely crafted you get transported somewhere that you never knew existed before (try “Hearing Take Five”). To finish his songs off he then hand picks the best suited players for each track. Michael has earned the respect of every decent muso on the planet, just check his lineups over the years.

    I am awaiting the arrival of my cd’s (yeah I bought 2 just in case one dies) to add to all my Michael Franks albums and would crawl over razor wire to hear him sing live, but alas Australia is just a bit far away, so youtube it is, but you never know….

  5. Mike Brennan says:

    I have often asked myself if I was only ever able to listen to one artist for the remainder of my life, who would I choose…? Unequivocally it would be Michael Franks…! I have been a fan since the age of about 11 years old when my Father played his albums while he taught me to play chess. The writing takes me to places in my mind which soothe and allow me to dream. At times of stress, I often play Michael Franks to relax and think about the bigger picture of life, inspired by his deep lyrics. Finally the jazz musician’s Michael selects to play on his albums mould beautifully with his lyrics, enhancing the tranquilty and dreaminess which makes listening such a rounded and complete pleasure.

    “Time Together” lived up to every expectation I had in the build up to its release. It is lyrically and musically another classic to be added to my collection. Michael’s voice remains like silk and again took me away to various places in my mind as I journeyed through the tracks one after another together with my Wife by candleight last night. Thank-you Michael for the gift you have given over the years and for this latest addition which will no doubt be there at various times yet to come ahead in my life…!

  6. chantal says:

    I have just listened to this new Michael Franks album and I am PLEASED. I am a follower of his work since the beginning. Even got the very first LP (yes the real one that I found in a little record shop in Boston on a trip to the USA some thirty years ago !!!!)
    Already “I RATHER BE HAPPY THEN RIGHT” is my favorite song and new motto.
    Hope to see him in Paris again soon.



  7. Mats says:

    This is vintage Michael Franks. He certainly did it again and this is right up there with his best work. Thank you, Michael for still standing out.

  8. Chris says:

    Sorry. “Bert” not Burt. :)

  9. Chris says:

    I agree @Burt. Aside from any education background, true Michael Franks fans will know this is a treasure chest that will continue to give priceless gifts with each listen. Once again Michael has used his ability to unlock mind imagery and emotion which you can’t learn in a classroom. It’s a gift and Michael presents it on a smooth, silver patter called a CD.

    Deep thinkers will see in these lyrics his master craftsmanship which, when mixed with his melodies, flows like honey. When Michael posted the lyrics last week on his website, just reading them evoked so much emotion in me without the melodies.

    If anyone doesn’t get it yet, take a more serious listen.

  10. Richard says:

    Loved the preview of “Now that the summers here” on this winters day in South Africa. Can’t wait till CD finally makes its way over here to access the rest!

    Great musician . . . good company through the years.

  11. Oh Ramon, Ramon – come now! We’re all entitled to our opinions naturally but what are you after? A radical change of direction? This album’s mood is affecting, its melodies haunting and the ambience and lyricism as ever, are both witty and spellbinding. Michael’s music contines to impress me as has been the case since the mid-’70s. Of course if you’re after this year’s model, the next big thing – look elsewhere. The tried-and-tested suits me well!

  12. Bert says:

    @Ramon: “Worst writing?” Is it because Michael’s lyrics do not glorify violence, sex, and cursing?

    I would rather my 14 year old son listen to Michaels’s “worst writing” songs than to the absolute rubbish (in lyrics) that passes for so-called music on mainstream radio today!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Sometimes, it is so easy for us to criticize without appreciation for the effort and talent it takes to be a composer/singer.

    I think you may not be aware that Michael has a Master’s degree and almost got a PhD. in English Literature. That should tell you something about his writing skills.

    Anyway, this album is long overdue and the first guitar riffs on “Now That The Summer’s Here” immediatley take me to a different world. A place of tranquillity. Thank you Michael.

  13. Every time I have encountered a Michael Franks album for the first time the same thing has happened. One cut has immediately grabbed me on the first hearing…I had to stop and play it again. It happened as far back as “Wrestle a Live Nude Girl,” and there has been one on each album. “Lip Service.” “Now I Know Why They Call It Falling.” “Chemistry of Love.” Instant favorites.

    The rest of the music has snuck up on me. I find it playing in the back of my head, sometimes without realizing where I heard it, and it makes its way to a secure place in my life. Of all of Michael’s albums, there are no more than three or four cuts I haven’t grown to love. So I’ve learned to give him a chance.

    This time, “Feather from an Angel’s Wing” was the grabber. “Summer in New York” and “Now That Summer’s Here” are coming up fast. “Time Together” is a tearjerker. “I’d Rather Be Happy Than Right” has got me thinking about using it as the theme music for a radio talk show I’m developing. Good stuff, all of it, and I’m grateful. This is a fine recording.

  14. Jeff says:

    Love it Michael! Thankyou and looking forward to those sunsets at my cottage with my ipod and the new tunes!!!

  15. I love Michael Franks but this is some of the worst writing I’ve seen in a long, long time.

  16. Joanne says:

    I’m in that place once again…thank you Michael…I love you

  17. Mimi says:

    Gorgeous of course!

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