Border States is the second of the one-two punch that begins with 56 Minutes and a Shower that represents the Lyricist Frank Topper together with Musician and Composer Charles Brusman at their raw and rugged peak!
The songs combine Topper’s ever-sharp writing wit and Brusman’s signature blues-rock influences and distinctive, almost conversational vocal style with a psychedelic hippie sensibility of peace, love, and cosmic adventure. Blues grittiness evoking conjugal visits and border runs sees the Topper-Brusman team juggle their way through a couple jailing themes, as the tracks take you on a challenging journey with equal parts down-home humor and wistful heaviness. As always, Frank Topper’s lyrics will have you seriously thinking…with maybe just a little smile on your face and a lot more affinity and comprehension in your heart.
Topper investigates a number of themes throughout his song lyrics, but at the core of almost all of them lays his thorough understanding of the intricacies that love and interpersonal relationships bring -be that between family members, friends or lovers. He can be dead-pan cold with simple and direct lines such as, “Told my girlfriend she’d made mistakes, Wasn’t no more my girlfriend,” from the track Border States, or he can be a little more cryptic with a phrase like “Teacher of lessons I learned, Asked for my defects removed, Yet you are still looking at them, Why I remain unimproved,” taken from the same song.
But it’s when Frank Topper’s storytelling paints us an unequivocally candid picture, that his messages through conspicuously clear-cut words hits home, as is demonstrated in 56 Minutes and a Shower: “56 minutes and a shower , All the time I get with you, Little while catching up face-to-face, You telling me what’s new, Fake flowers in a plastic cup, Governor on the wall, Thin mattress with sleet gray sheets, Guards stationed down the hall, I know it’s hard to understand, Passing through another checkpoint, But the prosecutor proved me wrong, Judge put me in the joint ”
Clearly, Topper gets to the heart of the matter as well as anybody. His songs sound like that of a man who has been everywhere and done everything. It often feels like he is writing for himself and allowing us the privilege of listening in.
Though not perfect and neither attempting to be, with an informal rough and rugged production, Charles Busman delivers each song its own flavor, its own sense of being, and its own response in the way the listener feels during and after listening to it. These are songs that go beyond technical virtuosity and straight to the soul.
If it’s not to your taste after you’ve given it a chance – well you can’t argue with taste. But you can’t argue for it, either! For whatever its worth, I think Frank’s freaking amazing!