Album Review | Aoife Nessa Frances Evolves On Protector
After a two year wait, Aoife Nessa Frances unleashes her sophomore album Protector.
This follow up to 2020’s Land of No Junction has already received acclaim for lead single ‘Way to Say Goodbye’ and the rest of the album follows a similarly enchanting vein to this track.
It’s a more advanced take on Frances’ folk-rock arrangements of old, which is in part due to an overhaul of her writing surroundings. In the spring of 2020, Frances departed Dublin for Clare, where the seeds of this album were sown. Recorded in a small house in Kerry, the tranquility of these surroundings definitely permeates Protector‘s haunting melodies.
Opening with the aforementioned ‘Way To Say Goodbye’, which appropriately deals with endings and beginnings, the album continues in a more sophisticated vein than its predecessor. Throughout eight tracks, Frances takes us on a journey though love, loss, angst and hope. There are a wealth of female influences throughout the album, with ‘Chariot’ recalling Alanis Morrissette’s ‘Uninvited’ in particular, while shades of Kate Bush and Tori Amos are plain to hear, as well as even Madonna on ‘Only Child’. Whether consciously or subconsciously, Aoife is definitely drawing on what has come before.
Frances’ ethereal vocals help the songs soar, her voice reminiscent of a cross between Dolores O’Riordan and Sinead O’Connor throughout, the kind that can effortlessly shift between earthy tracks and into something heavier. While on the surface Protector appears gentle, it does delve into dark places on tracks such as ‘Emptiness Follows’ – Frances has the ability to make a heavy lyric sound light and breezy, so that when you fully absorb the meaning of any given song here it hits harder than on first listen.
‘Way To Say Goodbye’ is a the best example of this, with its sweet sound sound deflecting from Aoife’s explanation of the meaning behind: “[It] reflects the feelings when a relationship ends, the difficulty of letting something go. How fear of loneliness can make you hold on to something for too long after it no longer serves you.”
Everyone will find something to relate to in these songs and the sonic melodies will haunt you long after a first listen, but perhaps what is most intriguing will be to see how this music translates live. Thankfully that question will be answered soon as Frances hits the road with dates in Belfast, Dublin, Limerick, Galway and Cork in November.
Don’t miss it.