Albert Frost: The Wake Up in Review

Review by Floris Groenewald (@Flrsi)

Photos provided by Albert Frost

Last year, Albert Frost parted ways with The Blues Broers after a 21-year stint in the band. And now, with his brand new and long-awaited third solo album The Wake Up, he aims to launch a new musical journey.

Though Frost’s name is often considered to be synonymous with blues guitar, here he departs from his roots, and ventures into a unique, reinvented sound that mixes elements from blues, rock, psychedelic, and African genres. And despite the album having a consistent musical identity throughout its running time, it also varies, genre-wise, from start to finish.

The opening track, Outside, starts softly and beautifully with acoustic guitars, but turns into a more-or-less traditionally Albert Frost-sounding blues number. The lyrics, featuring rivers of blood, murderous rage, and hiding from the rain, culminating in the realisation that “I will survive”, and a new morning, where the sunrise “takes away the cold”, serves as a great thematic opening to the album. The titular “Wake Up” then referring to a new dawn, revealing a different landscape after a long, tough, blues-laden night.

Naturally, the album features excellent guitar work by Albert Frost – solos that are intricate and involved without being overlong, bragging, or self-indulgent. And the other instruments on the album complementing the guitars excellently – a crisp sonic foundation for the guitars and vocals to lie on top of.

 

Albert Frost_The Wake Up_2016_011a

 

The album continues with Tonight – a soft rock self-acceptance soliloquy, and the album’s first single. Lyrically, Albert Frost had co-writing help on the album from various respected South African lyricists, like Hunter Kennedy, Robin Auld, Simon Orange and Albert Meintjies, who also co-produced the album. But it never sounds like the work of several writers – the album’s overall bright optimism that acknowledges the dark clouds but never dwells on it seems to indicate that the writing was guided by a central principle which thematically binds it all together.

In the middle of the album, tracks like The Wake Up, Leaving Town, Against the Wall addresses those dark clouds mentioned above. These tracks have a moderate pace, a tinge of nostalgia, but really showcases Albert’s wide range of influences and stylistic elements. Leaving town, for example, ends of with bluesy electric guitar phrases punctuating very West African-sounding acoustic rhythm guitars. Then, Against The Wall is the kind of soft rock track that traditionally signifies the start of the journey in a road trip film. It’s got a energising Carpe Diem kind of feeling, and is perfectly punctuated by the next track: the equally imagery-invoking Sunrise. Sunrise (the lead-in to Morning pages) shows off the kind of instrumental compositions that simply doesn’t require lyrics to paint a clear picture in the mind’s eye.

The album ends off with Home No More – an eclectic and electric track vocalising the dangers of our world which addresses the fact that “they say this house ain’t no home” – and Together, which celebrates love, togetherness, and unity through African guitar and percussion, and beaming vocal delivery of an earworm chorus.

The Wake Up functions on several levels. It is an accomplished work of art which, while far away from pop music, is easily digestible and should hold broad appeal – this album is definitely not only meant for guitar geeks. And although I’m sure hard-core blues fans might be disappointed, The Wake Up definitely retains the essence of what makes Albert Frost.

 

Follow @alfrost

Like Albert Frost

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *