It took Bob Frank 29 years to make a second album after his self-titled debut in 1972, but with Ride the Restless Wind he has now released four albums in five years. That's since he founded his own label, Bowstring Records, in 2001, and it offers another confirmation that a record company of whatever size needs product. It may also be evidence that Frank had a backlog of material from all those years he spent out of the music business. Ride the Restless Wind is, in effect, a genre exercise, and that genre is country music. Previously, Frank, though born and bred in Memphis and once a staff writer for a Nashville music publisher, had been considered a folk artist with some country leanings, rather in the mold of say, Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark. But Ride the Restless Wind, which as usual consists of all Frank originals, is a straight country effort produced by Jim Monahan with a studio band including a fiddler, Gabe Witcher. (Monahan plays mandolin and Dobro, among other instruments.) Frank is unabashed about his treatments of country (and western) subject matter, including a song about a dog ("Luther Brown"), a song about a horse (his decades-old, much-recorded "My Buckskin Lady"), and a song about a Native American ("Painted Arrow"). There is also a song about a barroom fight ("Monroe, Louisiana, Pipeliners' Brawl"), a honky tonk effort that serves to introduce one of Frank's favorite topics no matter the musical genre, drinking. Comically excessive drinking is the subject of "One Last Dive," a song that should be heard by George Strait with an eye toward covering it. Jimmy Buffett also might want to investigate the record for potential material. Ride the Restless Wind is not as impressive an effort as Frank's last album, Pledge of Allegiance, but it demonstrates his abilities as a songwriting craftsman, and he sounds right at home as a country artist, too.
Ride the Restless Wind Review
by William Ruhlmann