More than ‘a little love’ from Jack Francis
IN little over a year, Jack Francis moved on from playing his brand of ‘Soulful Folk’ at small local gigs in his hometown of Southampton, to appearing at major UK festivals such as the Isle Of Wight, Victorious and Stone Free Festival at the O2 Arena.
His self-titled album highlights an artist on the cusp of that all-important breakthrough. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any fillers included, there are, and I can imagine the, “shall we release an album or EP,” discussions surrounding today’s release rumbled on long into the night.
Nit-picking aside, this is a voice you won’t tire of hearing. From the pure Americana of, ‘Wild Eyes,’ the gloriously upbeat, ‘Silver Lining,’ and ‘A Little Love’ which proves simplicity is often the way forward – providing you’re fortunate enough to possess the vocal range of a singer like Francis.
History will show this wasn’t the greatest album Francis ever released – that’s yet to come – but for an opener, it’s not that bad at all.
One of the new breed of UK Americana acts that includes Jade Bird, Ferris & Sylvester and Yola, the heartfelt songs on his debut album are rooted in the finest musical traditions of America.
Born in England to Irish parents, Francis found his calling and his spiritual home after a visit to New York. He arrived in the Big Apple at a low point in his life having studied Music Performance at university, been involved in bands since he was 15, but none of it had worked out and he had given up playing music completely.
However, New York fired his imagination and inspired him to try again and two years later he would return to the city a changed man, to get married and extend his travels to Nashville having once again picked up the guitar and rediscovered his love of song writing.
His new album was recorded with the help of Ferris & Sylvester in their house in Wiltshire, where the duo have amassed an impressive cache of recording equipment and instruments, including a Hammond organ which has been wonderfully woven into the core of the record.
“It was great fun making it,” said Francis. “We had the drummer Ross Gordon, and we got in horn players and someone to do the strings. But all the rest – bass, piano, organ, guitar – it was just me and Archie [Sylvester]. We were able to experiment and focus and really just do what was right for the songs.”
Throughout the album, his rangy, English voice lends authority to lyrics exploring the emotional terrain of a young man’s life with not only passion but also poetic precision.
Having already featured on Tom Robinson’s show on BBC Radio 6 and BBC Introducing, Francis is preparing to take his music to the next level. “It’s all about the songs,” he added. “I just want to write the best songs I can possibly write.”
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