Frank Lee Sprague’s Fulton Chateau is a meditation on love lost or squandered, opportunities missed and lovers estranged. Like its companion album, the highly acclaimed Fulton Avenue, the songs are acoustic-based, yet diverse in song structure, with wholly original harmonic progressions and unforgettable melodies. The songs take the listener on a stark journey through heartache and regret, but never quite despair.
Fulton Chateau’s highlights are numerous. “Can’t Deny” leads off, setting the tone for what’s to come, with a plaintive, world-weary melody sung with passionate tenderness.
“You Don’t Know” is a haunting, harmony-filled ballad, so heartfelt and yearning it stays with the listener long after it’s over.
One of the most unusual and intense songs is “In the End,” which includes a backdrop of Duane Eddy-style tremolo guitar and effective spoken verses.
Other standouts include the contemplative “It’s not Right,” with string quartet backing, “Seduced, Betrayed,” and its Everly Brothers-style duet singing, reminiscent of Frank’s work as one half of the fabulous Sprague Brothers, and the edgy and impassioned “Out of My Reach.”
Fulton Chateau proper closes with the lovely, atmospheric, “Awakening,” one of several wordless sound-paintings which serves to heighten the album’s mood. Keep listening after the final chord. As always, Frank Lee Sprague provides a rich trove of bonus tracks, this time with a full band. Among the standouts, “I Don’t Want You” is a ferocious rocker, tough, catchy, and explosive, while “A Free Man” finds a country-rock groove with a melody so catchy it would climb the Top 40 charts in a better world. Backed by a full orchestra, Frank Lee Sprague leaves us for now with a softly crooned lullaby, “Beautiful Starry Eyes.”
Fulton Chateau is beautifully textured, carefully crafted art, but above all, it is soulful, the work of a musician and songwriter who lives and feels what he writes about.
Known for his unparalleled ability to synthesize authentic rock ‘n’ roll styles into his own West Texas imprint, Frank Lee Sprague’s work has wowed reviewers in Rolling Stone, Playboy, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, and many other magazines and newspapers. He has appeared on CBS nationwide television and National Public Radio, and performed live around the world, including several successful tours of Japan. Over the last few years, this charismatic songwriter and musician has recorded and released the critically acclaimed albums, Merseybeat, Cavern, Merry Merseybeat Christmas and Fulton Avenue, while also revered by fans for his long-time work as leader of the fabulous rock ‘n’ roll duo, the Sprague Brothers.