For Las Vegas singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Franky Perez, it's a good thing the Latin music flame is burning dim. If his debut, Poor Man's Son, would have come out, say, four years previously, it would have automatically been buried in that genre, for no other reasons than his last name and the tinges of Cuban influence that trickled throughout the CD. But now Poor Man's Son, which Perez recorded with his band, the Highway Saints, stands the chance to shine. Perez's songwriting chops are up there with the underappreciated Jude Cole, especially in the opening track, "Two Lost Angels," and the first single, "Something Crazy." A tale of a woman who wishes to escape the horrors of domestic abuse and the man who longs to save her, "Something Crazy" is powerful -- "She says that she's afraid to leave/She says someday he's gonna kill me/'Cause when he's drunk he talks with his fists." Perez's songs are at once heartbreaking ("Something Crazy" and the ballad "Again," an urgent love song in which Perez begs for a second chance), political ("Cry Freedom," no relation to Bob Marley), angry ("Life on the Edge"), and downright sexy ("American Classic"). Perez drools over his "American Classic" in Technicolor -- "It's the way she makes me guess/What she's wearing/Under that summer dress/It's the things she implies/In the roundabout way." The son of Cuban emigrants, Perez is clearly influenced by his heritage, as marked in "Southwest Side" and "Bella Maria." With Cuban music as a base, he successfully experiments with a buffet of tastes including sultry blues, roots rock, inoffensive '80s rock, and anthemic pop. In a nod to his love of early Stax and Elvis Presley records, he uses the Vincent Sisters and the Sweet Inspirations as backup vocalists. If there's a negative, it's that Poor Man's Son is a long project to tackle, with 18 songs. But Perez is rich with talent.
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AllMusic Review by Christina Fuoco