A powerful singer and vivid songwriter, Scottish-born and Canadian raised David Francey has released a string of albums since his 1999 debut, but this latest installment is both his most harrowing and most hopeful. Francey's personal notes about each song speak about bouts of depression, the passing of his father, and other challenges, all inspiring perhaps his best set of songs yet, ones that mine intensely personal inspiration and end up transforming it into overarching themes.
Pandora's Box takes the classic myth and grafts it onto a tale of modern disregard for the natural world, with the exquisite detail of lines such as "hasp and hinges broken, Pandora's Box wide open," as it denotes those who would protest such hard-to-fix changes. There is both admiration and a sense of inevitability in Francey's delivery here, a balancing act that makes it one of the most compelling songs. Harm is another stunning track, with an insistent tempo that recalls Townes Van Zandt's Lungs as it delves into the darker side of depression and getting out of that state of mind.
It's not all downcast and despair, however, as A Star Above is a gorgeous yet simple ode to love with metaphors inspired by the singer's affection being offered. Whether it is reciprocated or not isn't explained but the one-sided sentiment is beautifully rendered in lines such as, "If you were a song of love, you'd be the tune I love the best."
Though Francey himself doesn't play an instrument, his accompanists prove to be excellent musical foils for his lyrical and vocal intensity. Appropriately jaunty on upbeat songs such as Satellite and even providing vocal harmony support on the beautiful a capella Blue Yonder, their contemporary folk sound is the perfect soundtrack to experience Francey's poetic prose-worthy singing.