D. Lawrence Lee is nothing if not ambitious. The package he's put together for the debut album by his Detroit rock trio, the Romeo Flynns, is the kind of elaborate product (featuring a three-tier gatefold) that most bands don't bother with in this age of the Internet. He even brought in a member of the DSO to provide strings! So, yes, Lee aims high here: Pictures of You is a concept album of 12 songs (including a title track reprise) dealing with the end of a relationship; the lost love's name is obviously "Kristine," the title of one of the tracks, which sounds strangely like a hybrid of KISS's "Beth" and Pete Ham/Harry Nilsson's "Without You."
Thus, Lee not only wears his heart on his sleeve, lyrically, but he wears his musical influences there as well. Canny listeners will instantly identify traces of the Who (power chords galore), Springsteen (at least the latter's grittier street era, complete with saxophone), the Romantics, ELO and various elements of '70s classic FM rock; the band (rounded out by bassist-vocalist Jimmy Moroney and drummer-vocalist Jeff Kenny) even covers the Kinks' beautiful "Better Things" to illustrate where Lee's heart obviously lies. And the artist writes good tunes, full of pop hooks and melodies ("Something About Her" is the album's sole clunker), delivering strong rockers and ballads alike. His guitar prowess is also evident throughout; the solo on "A Better Man Than Me" sounds like it was ripped right off a vinyl single of "My Sharona."
Oddly, he buries what are arguably the two best tracks — the power poppy "Wasting My Heart" and "Just Fade Away" — in the middle of the disc. And that illuminates one of the CD's two flaws: Lee could use a good editor (or producer) to help him, um, well, edit his material a bit. Some of the tracks go on a little too long. The other flaw is that the lead vocals don't always work 100 percent. They probably sound great live in a club ... but on disc, where nuances are notable, they sometimes wear a bit thin.
Is there still an audience for this kind of stuff? That's anybody's guess. But if a rock fan walked into a club and heard the Romeo Flynns playing one of these tunes ... well, most rock fans would probably stick around to hear at least a few more.
We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.
Email us at email@example.com.
Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.
Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.
Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.
Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.