Franklin Bruno is teaching and finishing a Ph.D. in philosophy at UCLA. He’s also pursuing a career in pop music with two solo albums and three discs with his band Nothing Painted Blue to his credit. And he’s a published poet. Now, plenty of folks out there can turn a phrase and string together a couple of amusing similes, but few can dazzle you with their intelligence and wit. Bruno is one of those select few, a wordsmith with the humor and insight of a Noel Coward or Cole Porter, and a melodic gift that’s just as strong.
His latest offering, A Cat May Look at a Queen, sports 13 top-notch tunes, loaded with a sass and class lacking in most modern pop, and like the icons he almost looks up to, Bruno is able to create melodies in a wide array of styles. "Tired of the West" is an anti-cowboy song, but it’s built on a beautifully haunting country-flavored melody. "I Blame You" is a jazzy bossa nova, a gentle but heavily ironic kiss-off to an old flame. And "Dossier" could be a lover mooning over lost love, or a stalker snooping through a stranger’s garbage, but again the melody is achingly melancholic. Bruno’s understated tenor and the band’s minimal arrangements make the tunes here sparkle with an minimalist acoustic elegance