Frank Shiner – Please Come Home For Christmas
The first taste from Frank Shiner’s forthcoming second album, Lonely Town, Lonely Street, is the release of a holiday single, a re-interpretation of the classic Yuletide song “Please Come Home For Christmas”. Unlike many performers who ply their trade doing non-original material, Shiner’s choice of songs reflects his confidence to be able to put a distinctive individual stamp on the material. Shiner’s desire to avoid simply regurgitating older interpretations is quite successful. His 2015 debut “The Real Me” served notice that an important new voice in the blue-eyed soul genre had emerged surrounded by a stellar cast of veteran collaborators who helped him realize his vision. “Please Come Home for Christmas” is something familiar distilled through a personal prism and will likely resonate with anyone who takes the time to listen.
Shiner will attract your attention immediately. He does so through a warm and strong voice with deeply satisfying emotive ability. The blue-eyed soul really comes through in his phrasing – note how on certain lines, particularly near the beginning, Shiner emphasizes the pathos implicit in the lyric and really makes listeners feel his emotional pain. This is simply superb. Far too often, performers tackling “themed” material, like Christmas songs, rely too much on the singers who have tackled these standards before them as a reference point. This is where Shiner’s talents separate him from the pack. Instead of simply hitting his marks and respecting the material, Shiner makes enormous efforts to bring his own personality to the track and succeeds marvelously.
He’s aided by a crack band of collaborators who, like him, aren’t simply playing by the numbers. Instead, the piano and brass introduced into the song give it a torch song quality – this mix of their work with Shiner’s voice makes this song sound like something wrenched from someone’s heart at three a.m. with a half-emptied bottle of bourbon sitting nearby. This “blue” quality gives the track ample entertainment value, but it likewise elevates it to the realm of pure performance art. Moreover, the musicians working with Shiner on this track exhibit great taste and discernment. They never overplay and, much like Shiner, seem focused on establishing the emotional truth of the song while never adding a single extraneous note that might push the performance into a hamfisted or unduly melodramatic area. Lastly, clocking in at just a hair over four minutes in length, Shiner and his collaborators keep things compact, focused, and never waste the listener’s time.
The road that brought Shiner back into music later in life and it has rewarded him. The relationships he’s fostered, the experiences he’s shared, and the acclaim he’s received from countless quarters, including two L.A. Music Critics’ awards, inform the music and allow him the latitude to pursue his ambitions with the knowledge that he has the talent and authority to accomplish anything he aims for. The single greatest instrument working in this song is Shiner’s voice and the recording highlights it to memorable effect. “Please Come Home for Christmas” Produced by 10x Grammy winner Jay Newland (Norah Jones) will strike all the right chords for longtime music fans, but it sounds new and invigorated in Frank Shiner’s hands.