After having her gorgeous video for -Punches’ posted by Kanye West on his blog, and opening for Jose Gonzalez, Stars, Jape and The Lost Brothers, Dubliner songstress Valerie Francis releases her debut (co-produced with Jape/David Kitt’s Jimmy Eadie) to high expectations and much deserved buzz. Francis expresses a love for Kate Bush’s quirkiness – quirkiness not for the sake of being strange, she says, but for the sake of art. It’s pretty apparent here that while Francis is nowhere near as zany as Madam Babushka, that she shares that sense of ‘otherness’ and has a similar love for all sounds ethereal.
Slow Dynamo is multi layered- chimes tinkle, harmoniums drone and gentle cellos, horns and random blips wander over the usual piano/guitar backdrop- but each layer blends into a soft haze that sits peacefully on an even keel. A heady concoction of blurred sounds act like fireflies in a jar at night, all subtly taking turns to move the fore, twinkling alongside harmonies that make you want to sigh and close your eyes. There’s plenty of music to soothe any savage beast here, the album’s atmosphere is a mesmerising lull that’s both appealingly uncomplicated and touching in its frankness.
Francis’ voice drips with the warmth of a sunny natural space, even on the desperate plea for a lover to stay on -Please’ or on letting go on the dreamy -Like Glue’.
It’s not that there is any shortage of pain or emotion here but that its expressed from the sensitive kid in the class, the one at the back who stares out the window, dreaming about love and nature when they’re meant to be working on sums. You begin to suspect, that although this kid doesn’t shout or stomp, she’s noticed things you haven’t – and judging by the sound of things, you’d be right.
If you liked Cathy Davy’s -Sing for Your Supper’ or Goldfrapp’s -Clowns’, here’s an album packed with low-key beauty of both. Expect to hear much more of Valerie Francis and her lovely tunes for optimistic stargazers.