Released: 17 Jan 2020
Label: Basin Rock
Aoife Nessa Frances’s debut album Land of No Junction is a trip through sweeping mists that obscure the road ahead and that call into question the paths of the past
Published in The Skinny
Happy accidents are a rarity that occur seemingly at odds with fate. Irish songwriter Aoife Nessa Frances stumbled upon her debut album’s title, Land of No Junction, after mishearing the Welsh village of
Llandudno Junction, and with this stroke of serendipity the binding bow that holds the record together was found; from end-to-end there's a simmering sense of unfolding uncertainty, a land shrouded by sweeping mists that obscure the road ahead and that call into question the paths of the past.
With great promise does the record commence: unexpected nuances of instrumentation (Blow Up’s lilting strings, the loungey keys of Here In the Darkness), a tight command of shifting genres – folk, tropicalia, psych – with an equal spread of favour, and Frances establishes herself as a guiding force on account of her deep and affected vocality. The album blooms with a series of soundscapes, owing to rich reverb and rumbling rhythms, which provide a textured and tangible setting for her psyche’s travels.
A growing momentum takes the album forward with great confidence, akin to being led across an unfamiliar territory by a trustworthy transparent entity. So, it's a shame when this feeling of progression begins to falter toward the album’s tail-end. It's not to say there's no merit in these final cuts, but the change in pace and tone curtails the original trip that Frances and her band set out on; it's an ending to a different journey, which strips away a satisfying sensation of denouement. Frances’s voice has a tendency to sway into a mumble throughout, making certain vantages into her world a strain to perceive – unfortunately lending itself to the album’s mysterious nature a little too well.