Frances Black

Frances Black and Kieran Goss

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Frances is the lesser-known member of the talented Black family (her sister Mary is an international superstar of Irish folk-pop), but it's not completely clear why she shouldn't enjoy the same level of popularity. Her voice is as lovely as Mary's, and they have a remarkably similar taste in songs: both can do wonders with traditional material but seem drawn inexorably to sappy, disposable pop music and ersatz Tin Pan Alley material. This duo project between Black and Kieran Goss (a singer who only appears on four of the album's thirteen songs) focuses on pop material, with a diverse program of songs by Lennon and McCartney, Joan Armatrading, Karla Bonoff and others. "Wall of Tears" is a beautifully tragic love song, and "Heard It All Before" is a moving indictment of both sides in the Northern Ireland conflict. Kieran Goss acquits himself nicely on Armatrading's "The Weakness In Me." But most of the album consists either of annoyingly bouncy pap like "Everybody Loves a Lover" and "Forever Lovin' You" or remarkably ill-advised song choices like "Shadowing You," Karla Bonoff's chirpy ode to the joys of stalking. There are nice moments, but this is not an essential purchase.

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