Though they’re best-known for their reverential takes on the sound of classic R&B, the Daptone label has dabbled with rocksteady as far back as 2008. There was a dub mix of Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings’ “How Long Do I Have To Wait For You,” and a smattering of 45s, including a couple of singles by Bob & Gene, typically with Victor “Ticklah” Axelrod in the producer’s seat. It was on one of these 45s that The Frightnrs debuted, with their moving interpretation of the southern soul classic, “I’d Rather Go Blind,” popularized by Etta James.
While their full-length debut, Nothing More To Say, also features two covers—this time from the Daptone catalog—its strength is in its nine originals. “Purple” is quietly infectious, with Dan Klein’s sweet, gentle voice relying more on sincerity than acrobatics. The album’s general mood is one of sun-splashed joy, even when the lyrics deal with heartbreak, as they do on “All My Tears.” The melancholy “Till Then” is underscored by guitarist Preet Patel’s brief, yearning solo, which gets a prologue from his brother Chuck with a few strokes on the keyboard (read our interview with Chuck Patel here). Rich Terrana’s drums on the track are almost a ghostly presence, felt more than heard, but they’re a vital element to the record’s swinging pace.
For all its splendor, the record is colored by tragedy; Klein was diagnosed with ALS, and passed away in June, just before the record’s release. To that end, there’s a wonderful life lesson hidden underneath Nothing More to Say: Even when confronting adversity, we can be fulfilled—and inspire others—by chasing our dreams to the end.