Here’s an odd way to begin a review: Halfway through my first listen of the opening track of Aoife Nessa Frances’ Land of No Junction, “Geranium,” I switched to another album by another artist. It was early morning – aka still dark outside – and I was on my way to work, yet to be fully caffeinated, and I found the track too languid. Frances’ vocals were thick and omnipresent, akin to fog draped across a misty field.
I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it wasn’t that.
The next afternoon, however, the staccato rhythm from “Geranium” began bouncing around my head. Her vocals clogged my inner-ear. On my way home, I clicked play on the album again and let the music flow. In the words of the bard Bob Dylan circa the Byrds on Younger Than Yesterday, “Crimson flames tied through my ears, rollin’ high and mighty traps pounced with fire on flaming roads using ideas as my maps.”
In other words, as the wafting rhythms and cloudy vocals of the second and third tracks – “Blow Up” and “Here in the Dark” – drifted from the speakers during my commute home, the music began to make sense – as did my initial reaction. I’d noticed a four-star review for the album in Mojo, but hadn’t read said review; all I knew was that Frances was (Northern) Irish. I expected something more celestial and traditional, singer-songwriterish…
…and traditional the music is, actually, just not traditional Irish. Instead, it conjures the Byrds and textured, psychedelia-tinged pop of the mid-1960s, as well as the Paisley Underground of the ‘80s. Check out “Libra,” the most upbeat song on the album, which would be at home on the Notorious Byrd Brothers or aforementioned Younger Than Yesterday:
The title track is another highlight:
Now that I’ve listened to it numerous times, I find Land of No Junction quite compelling and hypnotic. It possesses a strong undertow that pulls you under its seemingly calm surface. It’s more of a late-night album than an early-morning affair, more Opal than Mazzy Star, but regardless of when you listen, you’ll be glad you did.