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CounterPunch review of A Familiar Fire

Stewart Francke: A Familiar Fire (Blue Boundary, 2014)
An hour of blue-eyed soul from a neglected master of the genre. A Familiar Fire is Francke’s tenth album, but there’s nothing repetitive about it. The years on the road have only made him wiser and deepened the grooves. There’s a surety and individuality to Francke’s singing on these songs of heartbreak and loss that moves him past his idol Mitch Ryder. Years ago, Francke fought a fierce battle against leukemia and it changed his music, made it more humane and profound. Take a listen to “Love’s Very Marrow.” On the surface, it’s a break-up song, but that word “marrow” is a sign-post for a deeper message about the fragility and vitality of love and life.  For Francke, the personal is political, as in his medley Time to Listen: “When the cops stop knockin’ its gonna be a different day / When the doors need lockin’ gonna be hell to pay.” This is the kind of music that only heavy experience can yield, the hard-won sound of a real soul survivor.
Jeffrey St. Clair, editor of CounterPunch, once played two-chord guitar in a Naptown garage band called The Empty Suits.