After two consecutive live albums, Keith Frank delivers his first studio release in six years, a dense 20-track, 76-minute affair that’s his most provocative yet. While there are the familiar love and sex themes, Frank isn’t afraid to address harder-hitting issues like depression, rape, suicide and distraught, single mothers resorting to prostitution (“Angelina,” “You’ll Never Be the Man Your Momma Was.”)
It’s not all heavy, but the movie poster cover art and disc title could cause some bewilderment, leading some to believe Frank is laying a quick claim deed to the Kingdom of Zydeco. Rest assured, he’s not, just acknowledging his higher power.
Rather for Frank’s 30th-something album, it’s all about balance, never staying with a particular theme or style for long. You can see where he came from on the ’90s-styled “On the Rise Again,” but nearly everything else reveals how far he’s evolved. There’s sans-accordion Southern soul (“It Ain’t What You Got,” “She’s Gifted”) but perhaps the most creatively engineered track is “Don’t Believe the Hype.” It opens with turntable scratches and a sampled, unidentified male vocalist wailing in Hebrew before Frank injects a trunk-rattling funky thrust with rapper Nathan “Pole” Brown.
But if you are looking for a clue regarding Frank’s artistic blueprint, the breezy “It’s okay to Be Different” sums it up perfectly: “It’s okay to be a little different/ It’s okay to have your own name.” Simple but meaningful, and to think Frank imparts messages like that with killer dance grooves.