Frank McComb - A New Beginning (2010)

Frank McComb
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If careers were like highways, Frank McComb's would be a rough backwoods Indiana trail, unpaved and with constant bumps and turns.  An immensely talented singer and songwriter, McComb's recording history plays like an episode of Real Housewives of Atlanta - except with more drama. Unsatisfying record contracts and long unreleased music dominated the first decade of his recording career, and it is only now that the tail of those events has ended. So it is particularly surprising that for his first legitimate new full studio recording in a half decade, Frank McComb sounds like a man who is both grateful and at complete peace with where he's at. And that aura infuses his appropriately titled A New Beginning, making it perhaps his most satisfying release ever.

If careers were like highways, Frank McComb's would be a rough backwoods Indiana trail, unpaved and with constant bumps and turns.  An immensely talented singer and songwriter, McComb's recording history plays like an episode of Real Housewives of Atlanta - except with more drama. Unsatisfying record contracts and long unreleased music dominated the first decade of his recording career, and it is only now that the tail of those events has ended. So it is particularly surprising that for his first legitimate new full studio recording in a half decade, Frank McComb sounds like a man who is both grateful and at complete peace with where he's at. And that aura infuses his appropriately titled A New Beginning, making it perhaps his most satisfying release ever.

A New Beginning is clear in its intent: it is a love poem, both to McComb's wife and to his God. And it is the latter that provides the album's biggest surprise and enables its transcendence. The disc begins and ends with the short intro and outro called "King of Kings," but it is what comes in between that displays Macomb's mature and full embrace of his spirituality. In no place is that expressed better than on "Deed to My Heart," a simply gorgeous song that combines a thankful spirit with an unreserved surrender to God: "I opened my heart for you to live in / thanks for waking me up over and over again...I opened my mind for you to feed it / the food of knowledge because I need it...Now I give you control of my soul so that where you lead I'm committed to follow." The song is striking in its unreserved faith and McComb sings it with beautiful sincerity.

The album is just as convincing on its more earthly love songs. "Since I Said I Do" is a great midtempo cut that celebrates the daily joys of being a husband, and on "Open My Heart" McComb melodically lays down all barriers toward a woman with whom he is in love.  "Wouldn't Trade You At All" is a more unconventional - even sarcastically funny - track that is less overtly romantic, but which hits the right ultimate note of love even in the day to day grind of married life. Maybe the best of these, however, is the ambivalent "And Now I'm Fighting," a song of regret for past betrayal of both a woman and God, but with an expressed hope that there is still time for both wrongs to be righted.  Branford Marsalis' guest appearance provides even more melancholy to this track, and the results are moving.

I was a believer that McComb's The Truth was one of the great albums of the last decade.  But A New Beginning,  with McComb serving as singer, songwriter, producer, record company executive and virtual one man band, may surpass it and all else that has come before from this talented artist.  Perhaps everything really does happen for a reason and the twists and turns that have characterized Frank McComb's career are the basis for what he expresses on A New Beginning. But, regardless of the reason, it is clear that A New Beginning is a career album - a Tour de Force that uniquely combines McComb's celebrated voice with both memorable tunes and stunning lyrical depth.  And it just as clearly affirms Frank McComb as one of the premiere soul artists of his generation. Don't let this album slip by. Highly Recommended.

By Chris Rizik

 

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