Following his BBC Radio 2 Playlisted single ‘Tell Me’, London soul singer Frankie Oliver returns with a brand new album - ‘Here I Am’ out June 9th on Good Deeds Music.
Showcasing impressive song writing and classic vocals, ‘Here I Am’ is a timeless 12-Track collection of authentically crafted soul songs written straight from the heart. “I love making music. And I love my wife and family,” Frankie says. “I just want to express how I feel about them and the world, everything rolled into one. This album is my truth.”
Highlights include the optimistic opener ‘Gone Are The Days’, the sultry ‘Man At My Window’ and the aforementioned BBC Radio 2 playlisted single, ‘Tell Me’. The new single, ‘Cos of You’ is one of the album’s most heartfelt moments, sounding like a long lost soul classic from the 60s - “It’s straight from the heart,” says Frankie. “It’s about losing my mother. I couldn't finish it because I became too emotional, so changed the lyrics around a little to take it elsewhere but the essence of song remains - if I could do it all again I wouldn't change a thing other than to have my mother in my life forever.”
There’s plenty of groove in this record too. There’s proper funk in tracks like ‘I’ve Got Love,’ the sun-filled ‘She’s Beautiful,’ ‘Down by the Riverside’ and the Sam Cooke sounding ‘My Kinda Woman.’ Elsewhere there’s the bluesy ‘Honey I’m on Fire’ and the old school R&B vibes of ‘How Many Times’ – Frankie’s take on the repeated mistakes of the world’s politicians. And don’t miss the one cover on the album, Frankie’s version of ‘Love Is Overdue’. The original was written and performed by Gregory Isaacs, but in the mid-seventies reversed from reggae to an old style R&B with stand up double bass and brushes on the drums. “I can't think of too many reggae songs adapted to a different genre” says Frankie. “And I thought it was a nice nod to my own reggae roots.”
Those roots began when Frankie was signed to Island Records by Trevor Wyatt in the early 90s, and whisked off to Jamaica to record his debut album, ‘Looking for the Twist,’ with the legendary rhythm section and production team of Sly and Robbie. “I absolutely loved all the musical side of it,” Frankie says. “I found myself working in the studio with guys like Ernest Ranglin, who played on ‘My Boy Lollipop’.” Frankie won lasting kudos with songs including ‘Give Her What She Wants’ and ‘She Lied To Me’. But the pop-star lifestyle and major-label politics did not agree with him. “I was being pulled from pillar to post. I had young kids at home and my wonderful wife was left to build everything on her own, because I was never there.”
To provide a more stable environment – and income - for himself and his family, Frankie qualified to become a black cab driver. While he mastered the intricate routes of London, Frankie also took time out to explore different musical trails, in particular digging deep into the classic blues and R&B repertoire that had mostly passed him by in his youth. Then one night two years ago his second musical life began when he was woken in the night by a melody going round in his head. He got up and started writing ‘My Kinda Woman’ at 3.30am. The track was so insistent that the very next day he enlisted the help of his friends the producer Delroy Pinnock and keyboard player Sam Bergliter (Lionel Bart’s nephew) to help him record it. A minor-key song of love and desire, steeped in the soul/blues tradition of stars like Sam Cooke and Screaming Jay Hawkins, ‘My Kinda Woman’ electrified all those who heard it.
Fast forward to 2017, and Frankie is now gearing up to release ‘Here I Am’ produced by Sam and Delroy and featuring a pool of top-flight musicians including Patrick Tenyue (trumpet), Bass Player Elroy Bailey of Black Slate, Ray Carlos(saxophone), Drummer Nik Bjerre, blues guitarist Steve Haworth and Michael Bami Rose from the Jools Holland R&B Orchestra.
“I’ve been away from the music industry, but the music never left my heart,” says Frankie. “I don’t regret my time with Island at all. They were great with me. But I had to get my life back under my control. This is a more personal thing. What people are going to get now is the real story.”
‘Here I Am’ is out 9 June.