Donavon Frankenreiter's in an enviable position. Though he's not exactly the best-known or most-hyped singer-songwriter on the circuit, his surf-mafia friends Jack Johnson and G. Love both show up on his self-titled debut. Frankenreiter's music echoes the laid-back vibe of the surf lifestyle in reggae-ish, three-chord sing-alongs abetted by harmonicas, Hammonds, and happiness -- the three-pronged combination that took his friends from club regulars to summer-amphitheater headliners.
Frankenreiter's not there yet, but he deserves it at least as much as his buds do. His songwriting's consistently strong, and his gravelly voice gives the right amount of gravity even to "Your Body Is a Wonderland"-style hokum like "Our Love." The thing is, Frankenreiter's equally comfortable with hurt and heartache. "Butterfly" is a mix-disc song for that girl you spotted playing darts at the sports bar, while "Wha'cha Know About" will make the cut after she leaves you for the star of the wrestling team.