FRANKIE LEE

Frankie Lee

STILLWATER (2019)

AMERICAN DREAMER (2015)

Stillwater is a small town between two hills in the middle of America. Frankie Lee was born there and has been running from it and to it ever since. Stillwater is also a record about life in middle America. A “record” meaning simply that, converting sound into permanent form. This is the story of how that record came to be.

For the recording of the follow up to American Dreamer – “debut album of the year” Rolling Stone – Frankie Lee had visited a few studios and they all felt like the same big production factories. He had spent the best part of a year wrangling livestock and had a pile of cash on the table to pay for the biggest and best gadgets which he then found he ultimately had absolutely no interest in. Lee wanted to get away from people who thought music should be made in isolation booths or that bigger was better. All the people who wanted the next big thing. Lee wanted to be the last little thing, he just had to find the right space to do it in.

One day Frankie Lee was walking down main street in his hometown and it hit him that he could bring the studio to them. Luckily, the house he grew up in was available. His mum had lived in the same house in Stillwater for most of Lee’s life. It’s a small cedar-sided house on an acre lot on the northern end of town, tucked back in the woods on a small hill, it looks like a log cabin.

So they packed in their instruments, tuned the old upright piano and rolled out a tape machine next to the wood-burning stove. Music was made from morning ‘til night. For three days straight, they ate together, stayed together and played together. Cutting six songs the first day and five the next, most of what they captured was first or second take. The music is minimal and warm. Lee describes his sound as “Western Music”, steel guitars and synths blend with acoustic guitars and omni chords. The musical brush is gold and green, dipped in deep blue. He slips in and out of time throughout the record. One line in a song could be its first or last. The song-stories are a blend of his own romantic grit. Ex-lovers, lost land and hope flung out of a car window, fraying in the wind.”

On American Dreamer, Lee’s characters were set loose in a seemingly inescapable inheritance of self-destruction. On Stillwater, they seek a path towards redemption by returning home and confronting the past. Based on the loss of youth, with a focus on the dissolution of love, as well as the real life of the working class, Stillwater is a scrapbook of short stories, reveries and musical growth by one of America’s greatest unknown songwriters.

Frankie Lee

Artist: Frankie Lee

Title: Stillwater (Album)

Release date: 24 May 2019

Catalogue no.: VJCD249

Formats: CD / Digital / Heavyweight White Vinyl

 

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1. Speakeasy

2. Only She Knows

3. Downtown Lights

4. In The Blue

5. (I Don’t Wanna Know) John

6. Blinds

7. One Wild Bird

8. Broken Arrow

9. Ventura

Frankie Lee - American Dreamer

Artist: Frankie Lee

Title: American Dreamer (Album)

Release date: 02 October 2015

Catalogue no.: VJCD224

Formats: CD / Digital / Heavyweight White Vinyl

1. High And Dry

2. Where Do We Belong

3. Queen Of Carolina

4. East Side Blues

5. Black Dog

6. Buffalo

7. Honest Man

8. Know By Now

9. Horses

10. American Dreamer

Stillwater (2019)

“Lee and his band furnish an atmosphere somewhere between The Band’s “Music From The Big Pink” & Springsteen’s “Nebraska” and the best of the songs here are not outrageously flattered by the comparison”
UNCUT

★★★★
MOJO

“In Lee’s hands, these sublime vignettes are given tasteful arrangements of guitar, pedal steel and keyboards. They serve notice of a stellar talent.”
★★★★
THE SUN

“Sweet-voiced country rock with shades of Springsteen”
ESSENTIAL TRACKS – THE BEST NEW MUSIC
THE TIMES

“The lead single from Frankie Lee’s Stillwater is an ode to actress Jessica Lange, who lived in the titular town during Lee’s youth. With an introductory guitar riff that nods to Neil Young’s “Unknown Legend” and an achingly beautiful chorus, “Downtown Lights” pines for the town’s purer days, before capitalism, condos and the proliferation of tourist shops choked Stillwater of its rough-edged charm.”
ROLLING STONE

“Beaucoup comparé á Neil Young dans l’approche des chansons, Stillwater dégage aussi un fort sentiment Springsteenien – pas incompatible – façon Tom Joad ou Nebraska en plus lumineux, peut-être, mais tout aussi intense et vrai.”
★★★★
ROLLING STONE FR

“A great, organic Americana Album with dense atmosphere, exciting stories, and darn good songs.”
8/10
CLASSIC ROCK GERMANY

““In The Blue” finds the sweet spot between modern, soulful folk and old-school Western balladry, with Lee’s gentle vocal lending an emotional heft to the track’s understated, piano-forward arrangement.”
AMERICAN SONGWRITER

“Frankie Lee knows a thing or two about hypnotizing his listeners… this present release is every bit as enchanting as the last.
Not only does ‘Stillwater‘ deliver the goods with style, but all nine musical reveries depicted in the record wind into a cohesive whole that exudes a unique and vivid artistic touch. And that’s a rare thing of beauty.”
8/10
AMERICANA UK

“A laid-back but overwhelming ambience and mood as Frankie struggles with the stunning realisation that all compounded things are impermanent… Frankie’s wonderful vocal sounds like the reincarnation of John Lennon, another working-class hero.”

★★★★
RNR MAGAZINE

“American singer-songwriter Frankie Lee follows in the footsteps of fellow Minnesotan Bob Dylan with his second album. Wearing a Dylanish hat and adopting a Dylanish croon, Stillwater has an easy going, Nashville Skyline sound, complete with slide guitar and harmonica, but it avoids ever descending into pastiche.”
BELFAST TELEGRAPH

“Listening to this album one wonders why Lee isn’t better known. Lee deserves his name to be mentioned along with Springsteen, Tom Petty, Dylan and Neil Young because he is a songwriter of no little talent, one who writes short stories and sets them in such haunting melodies they’re impossible to ignore, and has a voice that is more immediately appealing than most of those he’s always compared to. On ‘Stillwater’ Lee really delivers an album which is 100% Frankie Lee.”
PENNYBLACK MUSIC

“a more mature follow up… sounds like a young Tom Petty”
SCOTTISH DAILY EXPRESS

“take the time to listen carefully and you will discover a great songsmith”
★★★★
WRITTEN IN MUSIC

“Thoughtful song constructions, unhurried and patient, all contribute to another very satisfying album from Lee. Surprisingly he still remains slightly under the radar. If there’s any justice at all, Stillwater should raise his profile. Do seek it out, I’ve no doubt you’ll enjoy every bit as much as I am”
LONESOME HIGHWAY

“Frankie Lee’s sophomore album brings to mind greats such as Tom Petty & George Harrison on an absorbing collection of Americana.”
SECRET MEETING

“another slice of authentic Americana bristling with the vibe of small town USA. Real, poignant and warm.”
8/10
PETERBOROUGH TELEGRAPH

“Lee mixes reflective country with early 70s singer-songwriter stylings, à la Loose stablemate, Andrew Combs, along with more than a little Nebraska-era Springsteen.”
SHIREFOLK

“We can’t keep stressing what an incredible year 2019 has been for music… but without question Lee’s sophomore effort has been the most memorable. If digital recordings could be worn down by continuous play, our copy of “Stillwater” would be nothing more than a sonic blob by now.”
TRUNK SPACE

“The album seems effortless, whilst being lush and layered. If you are a fan of the likes of Bob Dylan, The Eagles, Neil Young or Tom Petty, then this should be right up your sidewalk. Even if you are not, it is well worth checking out as underneath the warm Americana lurks something dark.”
ROCKSHOT

“his latest album with flickers like the flames of a campfire between country, folk and pop. It has also a vibe of John Lennon’s more melodic solo stuff, which is very nice indeed.”
THE CRACK

“a gorgeously warm slice of Americana that makes even Lee’s angry and mournful lyrics sound palatably romantic. These are storytelling country songs sung in a classic ‘high & lonesome’ style, it’s mellow and spare but with great depth and majesty, much like a motionless but fathoms deep lake suggested by the title.”
TRUCK STORE

“As I’m sitting typing; it’s just dawned on me that this just might be the ‘Americana Album’ that Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen keep trying to make but fail miserably; as nearly all of the stories here are ‘blue collar’ and about ‘the working man (and woman) in one way or another; but here the judicial use of a pedal-steel and Lee’s distinctive vocal styling really, really tugs at the heartstrings in a way Bruce and Neil can’t any more.”
ROCKING MAGPIE

“A great Americana Album with a dense atmosphere, exciting stories, and darn good songs”
★★★★★
MUENCHNER MERKUR

“Stillwater’ has become a beautiful album with beautiful, sometimes melancholic music reminiscent of the aforementioned Tom Petty but also of the music of The War On Drugs. Frankie Lee had already released a good debut album with ‘American Dreamer’, but with ‘Stillwater’ he surpasses himself.”
REAL ROOTS CAFE

“This is a work that offers sounds balanced between past and present, elegiac and stimulating…The intimate sensations of a strongly wanted homecoming, the links with a harsh but highly poetic land in its truest essence”
LONESTAR TIME

“Frankie Lee expresses his emotions and concerns in short stories about life and love that are told in these beautiful songs.”
ROOTSTIME

“Stillwater is an album to fall hopelessly in love with and it is also a heavily addictive album, which is just a little more beautiful and impressive with every new listen.”
DE KRENTEN UIT DE POP

“The songs and stories are so strong that they do not need any “dramaturgy”, and “Downtown Lights” is a sample of how simple but brilliant a classic love show can be done”
ITROMSO

“From the two initial beaches, “Speakeasy” and “Only She Knows”, we are transported nearly half a century back. With their delicately agreable perfumes, they evoke indeed the climates of George Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass”, as well as the Slim Chance of the no less regretted Ronnie Lane.”
PARIS-MOVE

LIVE

“With a set that evoked memories of Neil Young circa ‘Harvest Moon‘, finishing with an encore of Neil Young’s ‘Comes A Time’ seems particularly appropriate this evening. A song on which Young seemed to reach a degree of acceptance with himself, it’s perhaps further indication that Lee has reached a place where he’s also now happy – able to express himself through his songs, living a simple life with few necessities – giving him the freedom to go where he pleases.”
AMERICANA UK

American Dreamer (2015)

  • AMERICAN SONGWRITER – TOP 50 SONGS OF 2016 – HIGH AND DRY – #40
  • THE LINE OF BEST FIT – THE 50 BEST SONGS OF 2015 – WHERE DO WE BELONG
  • CLASSIC ROCK GERMANY – TOP 50 RECORDS OF 2015 – #26
  • BBC RADIO KENT SEAN ROWLEY’S TOP 20 ALBUMS OF 2015 – #4
  • BBC RADIO LONDON ROBERT ELMS’ BESTS OF 2015
  • BBC RADIO ULSTER RALPH MCLEAN’S BEST ROOTS ALBUMS OF 2015
  •  BEAT SURRENDER BEST OF 2015 – #10
  • THREE CHORDS AND THE TRUTH TOP 40 FAVOURITE ALBUMS 2015 – #31
  • SOUNDS AND BOOKS TOP 20 SONGS 2015 – Where Do We Belong #18

“the hot tarmac romance of a roots rocking War On Drugs”
★★★★
MOJO

“Lush and honeyed but with an edge lurking underneath…natural and effortless…[Frankie Lee] falls between early Eagles and Neil Young’s Harvest Moon with a strong whiff of Tom Petty”
AMERICAN SONGWRITER

“beneath the familiar glow of his beautifully burnished Americana lurks a restless, angry soul.”
“a traditional-sounding debut, but wild and radical at heart, and should take him a long way”
★★★★
THE GUARDIAN

“a strong debut [that] rings with authenticity”
NPR MUSIC

“a rich and understated debut”
★★★★
UNCUT

“the debut album of the year”
★★★★
ROLLING STONE (France)

“A delicate blend of country songwriting and indie rock sensibilities”
ROLLING STONE COUNTRY

★★★★
Q

★★★★
CLASSIC ROCK (Germany)

“A brisk and breezy three and a half minutes that owes as much to classic country songwriting as it does to The War On Drugs’ road weary alt rock. A tender balance of cowboy grit and polished melodies, “Where Do We Belong” pitches Frankie Lee as one of the most intriguing new songwriting talents to emerge this year.”
THE LINE OF BEST FIT

“American Dreamer, doesn’t just fall back on a cascade of guitars and hard denim, shouting his feelings to buck-the-man percussion. Instead, he channels his youth growing up in the small town struggle into songs where atmosphere is just as important as aggression, if not more so — it’s a gentler call to arms, which, with his lyrical power and a keen craftsmanship that doesn’t always rest on simple Americana tropes, is often far more effective.”
THE BLUEGRASS SITUATION

“A refreshing debut… Buffalo gins up a sweet, rollicking shuffle that plays to Lee’s high level of craftmanship as a songwriter who understands that less can be more.”
GARDEN & GUN

 ★★★★
SONIC MAGAZINE (Sweden)

heart-achingly good melodies
★★★★★
GIGSOUP

★★★★
THE BIG ISSUE

“It’s a traditional-sounding debut, but wild and radical at heart, and should take him a long way.”
THE GUARDIAN

“American Dreamer is an album with brutally honest lyrics, real cowboy grit, and that perfect balance of roughly hewn hooks and polished melodies. ”
THE LINE OF BEST FIT

“an album of classicist Americana imbued with grain, wisdom and a quietly questioning authority”
THE INDEPENDENT

“the start of what promises to be a very exciting and significant new arrival on the Americana scene”
FOLK RADIO

★★★★
RENOWNED FOR SOUND

“think Sturgill Simpson, Corb Lund and aforementioned [Bap] Kennedy, a musical rebel who likes to feel the wind in his hair.”
★★★★
AMERICANA UK

“A single spin of American Dreamer underscores just how much promise Lee has as a musician -consistently excellent”
★★★★
PITTSBURGH IN TUNE

an exhilarating first album
★★★★
ROCKAWA

“like Mazzy Star had discovered the Heartbreakers”
★★★★
SOUTHERN DAILY ECHO

“excellent debut”
★★★★
PETERBOROUGH TELEGRAPH

Frankie Lee reveals a debt to both Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, especially in a vocal delivery which sits somewhere between the laconic (Bob) and the plaintive (Bruce). Musically, though, it’s the latter who provides the more obvious template, with perhaps a little of Kurt Vile’s grungy Americana thrown in.
HERALD SCOTLAND

Where Do We Belong, the debut single from Mississippi-born nomad Frankie Lee, has something special about it; what was once known as an X factor before Cowell and co. irreparably ruined the term.”
GET IN TO THIS

a fine debut from someone who promises to be a major new Americana voice
R2 MAGAZINE

“The best debut album of the year”
DUST OF DAYLIGHT, NORWAY

After Sturgill Simpson, there seems to be rising another star in the Americana sky from the house of Loose Music. Great songs that tell touching stories.”
COUNTRY.DE

“nothing, not even an association with such a respected label as Loose Music, could prepare you for the musical journey that Lee takes you on”
PENNYBLACKMUSIC

“ballsy Americana, stuffed with unexpected lyrical twists.”
BRISTOL 24/7


LIVE REVIEWS


 “this guy won’t be playing small venues for long” ”
BRISTOL 24/7

“…he delivers a set of songs that are mournful dusty ditties draped in classic American images. It’s a testament to the strength of his songs that his set seems far too short”
NE:MM

“His incredible voice hits you like a freight train, his spellbinding tracks are typical of any country star, founded in love and heartbreak… For a lone man with his guitar Frankie Lee leaves a definite lasting impression on this packed audience.”
MUSOS GUIDE

 

STILLWATER (2019)
AMERICAN DREAMER (2015)