Neal Francis “In Plain Sight”
We were big fans of Neal Francis’ last album “Changes” which was a great combination of modern piano pop and sixties soul (with a dash of gospel thrown in for good measure). Hot off the heels of that release and probably linked to a new record deal we have this follow up.
It’s apparent from opening number “Alameda Apartments” that everything we loved about that last album is also present here. It’s a great song that immediately puts you in a good mood. Together with songs like the funky “BNKV” and “Say Your Prayers” they are songs that just get your body moving and instantly make you feel good.
However, this album also represents a step up in quality (which is a big achievement). You’ll be hard pressed to find a piano driven power pop song that hits the heights of “Problems”. Whilst his music has previously had a definite sixties vibe that song and the likes of the brilliant “Sentimental Garbage” takes us along another decade to the seventies. Perhaps inevitably this is taken to a logical conclusion with a hint of Elton John being evident on “Prometheus”. In contrast “Can’t Stop The Rain” is like The Black Crowes if the Robinson brothers had been bought pianos rather than guitars.
It’s hard to think of another artist that is currently delivering this pop/soul/rock sound in such a unique way as Neal Francis. The funky soul numbers on this album will leave you dreaming of the return of long hot summer days… surely the conditions they were really written for. Whilst the album may be steeped in influences from days gone by it still feels very fresh and new.