Several months ago, New York-based singer/songwriter Shlomo Franklin found himself in a vintage guitar shop in Teaneck, New Jersey called Lark Street Music, sampling a 1940s-era Gibson and quietly singing a song he had never before sung. Little did he know, the owner of said shop was listening, thought it was a record playing in the back of the store, and was surprised to discover it was Franklin, who put the guitar back, thanked him, and made his way out into the elements.
“Upon arriving home I had a message waiting for me from a virtuoso guitarist and producer named C Lanzbom, who had recently won a Grammy for a Pete Seeger & Bruce Springsteen record that he had mixed. Pete is a treasure in my mind, a link to the rich history of great American folk music, right up there with the rest of the giants. Pete was royalty to me, and so was C Lanzbom,” Franklin explains. “Now C was leaving me a message telling me that the owner of Lark Street Music in Teaneck had told him about me and he asked if I’d come down to his studio and play him some of my songs. Needless to say, I was a bit nervous.”
Franklin’s fears were laid to rest within minutes of meeting Lanzbom, who showed him only kindness and encouragement and with whom he shared and innate passion for the blues. “He told me he wanted to work with me. Of course I’d want to work with him. He’s a first class guitarist, a tremendously intuitive engineer, and as a producer, he’s incredibly patient and open-minded. He lets the songs go wherever they need to go naturally and organically, he’s all for experimentation, and I needed that,” says Franklin. “We’d record my songs in a way that would talk to the better half of humanity.”
Together, the pair, to their surprise, made a full-fledged and beautifully-produced album entitled Apartment 16, using an all-star cast of some of the finest musicians in the world, including Lanzbom. “January Eyes” is the first sample of that record.
“‘January Eyes’ is sort of a self-explanatory song, but it’s essentially about friendship and about creating a space for another human where they can find refuge,” he continues. “It’s about making someone feel completely at ease without having any expectations of receiving anything back from them. It’s about treating someone with true dignity and respect. It’s about putting someone else’s feelings first and truly taking care of them.”
The song’s accompanying lyric video was created by keenly talented English visual artist, cinematographer, and director Ioan Morgan-Jones, who acutely understood the song’s emotional roadmap and created a four minute masterpiece. “He shot a film that acts more as a soundtrack, and allows the soundtrack to take the role of the film. It’s both youthful and innocent, but then in the next frame, the screen adapts an entirely different emotion,” he says. “A picture is worth a thousand words and a song is worth a thousand pictures. I hope ‘January Eyes’ is there for you when you need it and that you treat it with patience,” adds Franklin. “Hope it gets to you at the right time.”
Without further ado, East of 8th is proud to present “January Eyes,” the new single and fantastic lyric video from Shlomo Franklin: