Robert Francis & The Night Tide - Heaven
At just 26 years old, American singer/songwriter Robert Francis has already courted a certain amount of success with his album Before Nightfall which landed him a #1 single in France. He's also courted the vices that have been the downfall of many an artist before him, with a break from previous label Atlantic resulting in a period of drugs and alcohol dependency where Francis quit the music industry. With a fresh outlook and a new band behind him, Francis's welcome return is one to be noted by fans of singer/songwriters who inhabit the worlds of both rock and folk.
The punchy opening double of 'Baby Was the Devil' and 'Love is a Chemical' merits the new 'and band' moniker, going the classic Springsteen/Americana-rock route but in an entirely credible way. From this point, Francis revisits guitar-driven anthemics but folk and country are also frequent genre touchstones for more reflective tracks, calling to mind Ryan Adams' admirable ability to switch tempos and tones with ease. At points, there is overlap: witness 'Ukiah', with its post-Strokes scruffiness married to melancholy melody. Among the late-night bar blues on offer, the gospel-tinged soul of the title track and the gruff 'I've Been Meaning to Call' stand out. Heaven might be an over-reaching title but it's a dreamy fourth record, and no doubt positioned as an early entry in what should be a long and exciting career.