Kick-start the weekend with a slice of Americana from a student of the genre who’s been playing since age 12
If it wasn’t quite enough that we brought you a stellar exclusive just yesterday, today you have the chance to feast your ears on a writer taught to play by ghosts and legends and possessed with the voice of one of the greatest songwriters of all-time.
Born among the banks of the Mississippi river, Frankie Lee’s career in music began following tragedy – inheriting his father’s records and equipment after he was killed in a motorcycle accident when Lee was just 12. Two years later he was the protégée of The Replacements’ Slim Dunlap and playing in smoke drenched bars after his mentor. It seems that he was born to play and as Lee says: “I was raised on stage.”
If the stage was where he was raised it was otherworldly forces that schooled him, with Lee advising that he was “taught to play guitar by a ghost.” Having grown-up with a guitar in hand it was only natural that music would define his life and when he dropped-out of college aged 20, he moved to Austin, Texas and worked for Townes Van Zandt’s son. After been diagnosed with narcolepsy two years later, Lee was then the victim of his ailments cure, with the methamphetamines used to counteract its effects sending him spiralling into drug addiction.
Having kicked the habit Lee then befriended the noted engineer Patrick McCarthy – he of REM, Madonna & U2 fame – and was taught how to make flesh the ideas eating up the inside of his skull. He then moved to Minnesota and after releasing the EP Middle West he was struck down again, this time by a finger-crushing farming accident that forced him to take the piano as his primary songwriting vehicle. Lee’s debut album American Dreamer comes-out today (2 October) and as an introduction to his songwriting you can enjoy the virtues of Buffalo.
An insouciant, airy and addictive slice of Americana, Buffalo is notable not just for marking Lee as a writer who fans of The War On Drugs will take to heart, but for introducing a voice that’s spookily reminiscent of John Lennon’s most psychedelic moments. Lee says of the song: “Buffalo was born in the back of a station wagon on my way through the North Dakota Badlands. I had been driving for 14 hours and needed to close my eyes. When I opened them again, the sky was on fire and the oil fields were pumping blood out of the earth and this song was in my head.” You won’t need 14 hours for this song to stick in your head, just the three and a half minutes it takes to listen to it once, after-which you’ll be hooked.
The press have called Lee’s music “a dreaming, hazy piece of Americana” and while we agree with that, as always we think your ears will be the best judge. So saddle-up and hit play on Buffalo…