CD review: Frank Royster, Innocence is Bliss (with video)

Recently released on Kool Kat Musik, Innocence is Bliss is Royster’s follow up to his 2006 debut, Thru The Years. While Thru The Years featured some great tunes, it had a definite raw, self-produced sound. For Innocence is Bliss, the addition of Jamie Hoover brought highly polished production values that elevate a great collection of pop songs to the level they deserve.

Innocence is Bliss includes 13 power pop gems, each with its own feel and identity. The first track and current single, “Mr. Wonderful,” [video below] is an upbeat, jangle pop number that showcases Royster’s songwriting abilities and is a great song to blast through the Delco with the top down. “She’s Not Alone” follows with a sound not unlike something you’d expect from The Smithereens, but takes a slightly Beatles / “Uncle Albert” turn about halfway through. It sounds a bit strange, but it works. As for my favorite tracks, I’d have to say that I’m a bit torn. “Brena You!” reminds me a bit of Randy Newman’s smart, quirky lyrical style set to a musical track straight out of Sgt. Pepper’s. It’s one of those tunes that force me to break out the “air piano” and my best Billy Preston imitation. Complicating my decision is “I’m Gonna Take It,” which represents a complete musical 180 with its laid-back pop groove, lots of great temolo guitar and tasty drum beats. Intertwined within the track are some of Hoover’s trademark harmonies, which compliment the song well. Royster also pays homage to the roots of pop with an excellent cover of Lennon/McCartney’s “Every Little Thing.”

Innocence is Bliss is as good, or better, than most major label pop projects I’ve heard in recent years. I definitely recommend it to fans of pop music.


Video for "Mr. Wonderful" by Frank Royster

My love of pop music, in all its various incarnations, has never been a closely guarded secret. Starting with bands like The Beatles, The Kinks and The Dave Clark Five, pop has and always will be my musical reset button. It never fails to help bring me back to center when things get too far out of focus.

When longtime friend and legendary pop music producer Jamie Hoover recommends a new CD, I typically pay attention. Jamie has produced, played on or had some involvement in many of my favorite pop recordings. I’ve never known Jamie to recommend a band or artist that turned out to be less than spectacular and his latest tip, Innocence is Bliss from power pop songwriter Frank Royster, is once again right on the mark.


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