I think a few months ago, this wouldn't have made sense to me, but now I totally get what he's saying.
On my new app, I'm still using express to do most of the connect-ey stuff, but i've definitely decided that most MVC-ey frameworks are a premature optimization (for me). I'd rather just start with node + express, add in whatever DB I need (Redis / Mongo preferably) and build small and progressively.
My lesson learned... would love to hear other opinions.
There is very little value in trying to draw generalisations from past experiences when it comes to deciding whether to use a framework, and if so, which framework to use.
Unless you're reinventing the wheel, each project will front you with a unique set of challenges. More often than not, with a framework, these problems are awkwardly solved with code written by other people to solve other people's problems.
In my opinion all of this has less to do with what's trying to be achieved than it does with what you personally want to take away from the experience. If your motivation is to make money quickly to feed your family then you would be silly not to jump on something like Rails and ride on the shoulders of giants. On the other hand, if you want to become the most proficient programmer you can become then this path will probably lead you astray.
A quick look around the internet reveals both tiny projects that fail, as well as enormous projects that succeed, on full-stack frameworks such as Rails.
Needless to say if you're hacking on node you are of the latter category; The developer striving to broaden her horizons by exposing herself to the news and unknowns. This won't help you learn to work in a team on a large project. It wil not teach you to control complexity. In fact, it will probably lead you to believe you're learning all these things when you're in fact becoming comfortable with the complete opposite (working alone, hacking in anything, anywhere you feel like).
Generalisations really piss me off.
I whole-heartily encourage anyone who is open-sourcing node.js code to continue doing so. Even if it is Yet-Another MVC framework. Just take note of what ry is getting at here by keeping it mean and lean.