Frances at KOKO
When Frances steps on-stage, a mass of ginger curls and a beaming smile, she looks like someone who may have been doing this for a very long time, so effortless it seems. But as she sits behind her piano underneath the bulbous lamplights of KOKO, she explains that she is promoting her debut album, and is really just very happy to be here. Her candour is refreshing: clearly her biggest asset is that she is completely herself.
Her set opens with When It Comes to Us, a love song about her relationship working out, despite the odds being stacked against it. Frances’ voice is strong and clear as a bell. She staccatos her lines occasionally, only to let them bleed forth a second later, in the Ellie Goulding/Jess Glynne R&B style that has overrun the top 40 just lately.
But Frances is far less stylised, though she has all of the credentials, having worked with Disclosure’s Howard Lawrence – and the song Borrowed Time, the result of their collaboration, is beautifully haunting. She also covers one of Justin Bieber’s more reformist tracks (What Do You Mean?), and then explains that she co-wrote one of the new songs on her album with Greg Kurstin – most famous for writing alongside Adele on her track Hello. But all of this comes out like afternoon conversation, as if she is talking to you and you alone.
The album is strong, if a little monotonous. Ballads are the hardest tracks to write, and sometimes it feels like she has relaxed a little too much, when she sings “We barely made it after all this time […] it’s turning out sublime”.
She won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, and anyone that likes their music with a little more oomph won’t enjoy her super-stripped, never-be-raucous performance. She lacks the rawness of Adele, to whom she might be compared, and has foregone the glitz of her other contemporaries. But Frances is herself, something so many artists fail at in the pursuit of being someone else. And honesty like that, twinned with a set of promising new songs, is inarguably captivating.
For further information about Frances and future events visit here.
Watch the video for Don’t Worry About Me here: