Franc Cinelli has always been blessed with the art of musical understatement. For the most part the main thrust of Night Songs is the dexterous guitar work and warm tones of the man himself and very little else because little else is needed to make these songs fly. And that is a great skill to have, to know how to get to the essence of the song, how to put only what is needed in and how to juggle space, atmospherics and anticipation do the rest.
Additional rhythms do work their way in, complimentary bass notes add some additional push, beats underline the structures found in the songs but these are used as a gentle platform to hang the songs on rather than try to add any unwanted urgency. Gorgeous vocal additions are often the most obvious enhancements and again these are used sparingly so that when they are brought to bear their presence is felt. And whereas The Marvel Age was all about heading out into the world, of exploration and adventure, of seeing the world anew, Night Songs, as the title suggests, is built around something more introspective, more reflective, night time musings made into music.
Stay Strange is about as rocky as it gets, an understated anthem, if that is even possible, a fine balance of groove and grace, of energy and elegance and at the other extreme, Fly is the delicate sound of a man lost in thought and the romance of the road of being “driftwood on a river of brake lights.” Breathe adds a gospel vibe into the folky mix, Horses is a lilting and lovely piece and Walk With Me Jimi is a shuffling piece of pent up energy who’s little character study reminds me of an early Springsteen sketch.
The Marvel Age made us want to follow in Franc’s tracks as he rises up to explore the world head on. Night Songs makes us want to open a bottle and sit up all night with him sharing thoughts and stories, drunken philosophers putting the world to rights. Whether the world in question is the size of the planet or the size of a candlelit room, Franc Cinelli has a song which fits it exactly.