Subtle balladry was the big thing in the late 2010s, and while a lot of artists have been carrying on with this type of songwriting in the last year, Griffith Frank simply isn’t satisfied in following the same path as his contemporaries. In the new single “You’ll Be There,” Frank delivers a blunt ballad in the style of casual, jazz-inspired vocal pop but with a decidedly more alternative edge than one might be expecting. “You’ll Be There” is both commentarial and introspective, political and entirely personal, essentially binding together the key themes of 2021 so far inside of its modest three and a half minute running time.
The lyrics in this song aren’t the main centerpiece of expression from my perspective; this title would belong to the harmony which frames them from beginning to end in “You’ll Be There.” Scarcely is there a moment in which Frank’s voice isn’t contributing an unmistakably charming element to the piano’s forward melodies, and while they could be independently described as emotionally-charged, they together form a tidal wave inescapable to the majority of us. Pop songwriting is one thing, but this is something just a bit more classical when considering its passionately romantic aesthetic.
This master mix is presents the instrumentation as being softer than butter but without any of the fat, and though I don’t think it would have hurt to bring in a distant string adornment to the chorus just to create some juxtaposition, I can appreciate the black and white construction here just the same. Griffith Frank is one of the few solo singer/songwriters I’ve encountered this January seemingly determined to abandon the excesses of his peers and replace them with a sharp emotionality many have been intimidated by in recent times. It’s a perfect formula for success in my opinion, and something he’s turning into a bit of a signature at any rate.
There’s no need for a percussive component in “You’ll Be There” given the strength of the joint dalliance produced by the interactions between vocalist and piano, and I’d still say that rhythm is a big part of the reason why the narrative here is as brooding as it is. The absence of a physical beat leaves everything in Frank’s court, his words shaping the tempo of the music and his tone clarifying how serious he is about the poetic sentiment. It wouldn’t work for every artist, but it’s excellent in this performance for certain.
I hadn’t heard much about Griffith Frank before I got turned on to this latest release, but if “You’ll Be There” is giving us a good picture of who he is as an artist, songwriter and performer, I don’t know that we shouldn’t expect his name to be hoisted into the mainstream spotlight a lot sooner than later. His vocal talents alone put him in a special class of singers, but utilized in the fashion they are here, I find his style of play to be purely irresistible and likely fodder for international superstardom.
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