Posts Tagged ‘robert francis’

Robert Francis’ Playlist

So you know we love Robert Francis’ new record “Before Nightfall” – we previewed it a few weeks ago, and even did a very revealing interview with Robert. He promised a list of 10 songs that he loves and here it is baby! We figured that the next best thing to hanging out with Robert and listenin’ to these tunes is to listen to them on our own (or on your own!). If you’d like to get a message through to Robert – leave a message here and we’ll get them through to Robert’s publicist.


Robert Francis - Bed Photo - (c) Julie Brokaw

Here’s the list and then nine out of the ten songs are embedded here for your listening pleasure. The only song missing is Keef Hartley Band’s “Circles”.

– Duncan Alney

1. Moby Grape – I Am Not Willing
2. Procol Harum – Whiter Shade of Pale
3. Richard and Linda Thompson – The Calvary Cross
4. Bob Dylan – You’re A Big Girl Now
5. Karen Dalton – Something on Your Mind
6. Keef Hartley Band – Circles
7. Gene Clark – Lady of the North
8. Fleetwood Mac – That’s All For Everyone
9. Townes Van Zandt – Like A Summer Thursday
10. Little Feat – Long Distance Love

Robert Francis says “Follow your heart”

Robert Francis, maker of 100% genuine American music, talks about being intimate and personal. His new record “Before nightfall” comes out today. If you missed our preview of the album – check it out here.


"if something is intimate & personal, it will overcome any sort of criticism because it’s real"

It’s crazy looking at your picture and seeing a 22 year old guy and then listen to you sing about sing about subjects 40 year olds sing about. Yeah, well thank you. Its, strange, man.

Your music has been called timeless, genuine, 100% American music. I’m very appreciative of having that come along with the music. I think I’ve made it a point to stay focused, to stay true and heartfelt over a long period of time. It shows me that if you follow your heart and do what you that things will happen in the way you’d like them to.

What’s “Climb a mountain really about? What was going on when you wrote it? Around that time, I was pretty unhealthy. I woke up one morning and I felt like my back had shut down, and I started getting horrible cramps everywhere. I went to the ER and they said I had pneumonia, and they gave me some antibiotics. The antibiotics didn’t work and I was throwing up a dixie cup of blood a day. I went back to the hospital, and they said it has spread to both lungs. I was there for 3 days. This was at the heart of writing the record. The song is about two hopeless people in two completely different places at the same time. Both of them are handicapped in different ways. It has to do with the girl that I wrote the record about. My first love. And how I the way that I took care of myself and she took care of herself disabled us from being able to be together, being able to take care of ourselves. I wrote it in the hospital in the three days just thinking about the past and different memories. It’s a little collection of thoughts.

It’s a gripping, unputdownable track. Thank you.

What was it like working with Ry Cooder? I love him. He’s the best. He’s been such a supportive figure in my life since I can remember. He’s always made sure I never really doubted myself. He’s an incredible musician. Any opportunity to get him to play on something of mine or play on something of his. It’s a joy.

Your album is reminiscent of Jackson Browne’s Too late for the sky. Love that record.

Your style is intimate and confessional. What’s it like? It can be hard at times. When you put any type of art form into the world, especially something that is deeply personal to you, it’s easy to watch people tear it up. And I think if one can be ready for that criticism, I think it toughens a person up. But I think if something is intimate and personal, it will overcome any sort of criticism because it’s real.

It must be interesting for you to know that other people are living their experiences, or that their experience are being forged through your experiences. It’s specially interesting when they hear the record, the way I interpret things and they realize things they hadn’t realized before.

Whats your favorite drink? Basil Haydens. It’s a bourbon. I drink it neat.

Are you a Facebook guy or Twitter guy? I tried for a second to do the facebook thing. It got me doing strange things. I tried Twitter for a second and I cant keep up. I’d say neither.

What’s next for you? Probably going to tour for the unforeseeable future, and start writing the next record. I’ve already begun. Just really try to keep thing goind and keep my head together, and keep making records.

We’d love a list of 10 songs that you like. Sure that’d be cool.

Love the story? Click here to buy the album on iTunes.

– Duncan Alney

Why Robert Francis is making 100% genuine (timeless) american rock music

Confessional, Candid, Mature, Authentic, and he’s only 22

“I know that for some musicians, writing songs is like therapy and the way they get their emotions out,” says Los Angeles-based singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Robert Francis. “But for me it’s more than an outlet — it’s a way to keep me from completely losing my mind.”

Robert Francis - Butterflies - Marc Gabor

"There’s not a shred of anything within my songs that isn’t 100 percent genuine.” - Robert Francis on his songwriting

Such an intense statement may sound like the drama of being 21, which Francis is, but listen to the two albums that he’s created, 2007’s indie release One By One and his upcoming major-label debut Before Nightfall, and it becomes clear that it’s true. As NPR has noted about Francis’ modern take on timeless American rock: “He has laid himself out in song and created some incredibly moving and beautiful musical moments.”

“Honesty is what makes a good song,” Francis says. “I don’t think there’s a reason to write unless you’re writing about something that’s deeply important to you. If I write anything, it has to be 100 percent heartfelt. There’s not a shred of anything within my songs that isn’t 100 percent genuine.”

Francis’ work pulses with an undercurrent of forceful candor that cannot be faked. The songs on Before Nightfall are so personal that Francis has trouble explaining the specifics of what they’re about, but he does offer that One By One came out of the emotional turmoil he suffered after a failed relationship, whereas Before Nightfall looks back on that relationship through the healing prism of time and finds hope in starting over and moving on to something new. “Songs like ‘Darkness,’ ‘Climb a Mountain,’ ‘Junebug,’ and ‘Keep On Running,’ are about knowing that the person you love is out there on their own and you can’t do anything about it,” Francis says. “They’re about how impossible love becomes more impossible. But I think there’s optimism in the songs; I don’t think of them as sad. I think they’re kind of uplifting.”

Francis’ frankness goes down easier than you’d think thanks to his husky baritone voice, finger-picked acoustic melodies, and uncluttered arrangements. Burnished by his keyboard work (Francis plays piano, Mellotron, Hammond B3, Wurlitzer, Farfisa organ, and Solina synth), bandmate Graham Lathrop’s elegant pedal steel guitar, and backing vocals from Francis’ sisters Juliette and Carla Commagere, the songs on Before Nightfall glow with an earthy, homespun quality that draws on everything from country, to folk, to blues, to roots rock. Highlights include the aforementioned “Climb a Mountain,” which features slide guitar from one of Francis’ early mentors, Ry Cooder (his sister Juliette’s father-in-law), the heartfelt country-tinged “Playground,” and closing acoustic ballad “Do What I Can,” where the emotion is so palpable, you can hear Francis’ voice quaver as he slides into his upper-register.

The intimate sound is deliberate, Francis says. “On the records I love, the vocals are right there. It sounds like you’re in the room with the person and all the other instruments support the story. The greatest records were made like that. In no way was I trying to make a ’60s or ’70s throwback record, but the songs called for that intimate vibe. I wanted to get the band in a room, do it live, and make it sound as immediate as possible.”

To help him achieve that immediacy, Francis enlisted Grammy Award-winning producer D. Sardy (Oasis, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Marilyn Manson, among many others), whom he credits with “helping me come into my own with my voice.  Sardy helped me sing out and make the vocals as raw and intense as possible. He was not the guy who was going to spend three hours on some crazy synth sound. He was the guy who said, ‘Let’s do this — but just you guys. Let’s make an old-school rock record.’”


“But for me it’s more than an outlet — it’s a way to keep me from completely losing my mind.” - Robert Francis

Sardy and the band (bassist Alex Kweskin, drummer Richard Gowen, and guitarist Graham Lathrop) kept the proceedings relaxed by making the studio feel like home. “I basically brought my living room to Sunset Sound,” Francis says. “We brought all the rugs and some posters and lamps and recreated this little world that felt just like where we rehearse. We set up in a circle, stocked up on what we needed, and went to town.”
It was the way Francis imagines his favorite artists, like The Band, Gene Clark, Bob Dylan, and Greenwich Village folkies Karen Dalton and Dino Valenti made records.  “There was a time when a few amazing artists moved up to Bearsville to get away from the city and really just make beautiful music,” he says. “They weren’t concerned about what was going on outside their bubble. They created their own universe. And that’s what I wanted to do – to forget about everything and just concentrate on four guys in a room making music the way we wanted to make it.”

– Filed by Duncan Alney