Aoife Nessa Frances

Land of No Junction

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A pastoral, dark-hued collection of gently psychedelic folk-based songs, Land of No Junction is the debut album from Irish singer/songwriter, Aoife Nessa Frances. Based in North Dublin, Frances cut her teeth in the mid-2010s as one-half of the shoegaze duo Princess before setting off on a more organic solo path a few years later. Beginning with an almost freeform approach, she slowly began honing a group of songs that intertwined abstract imagery, personal introspections, and subtle evocations of the natural world. Teaming up with collaborator and co-producer Cian Nugent, she formed a nimble and musically sympathetic ensemble which began refining and recording the material at Dublin's Oxford Lane Music Society studio over a period of a year-and-a-half. Although stemming from an acoustic folk tradition, the nine tracks on Land of No Junction are layered with elements from lush chamber pop, indie rock, and the sort of eccentric wilds inhabited by left-field folk-pop artists like Cate Le Bon and Aldous Harding. Set to a vintage organ rhythm track, opener "Geranium" builds an eerie picture as Frances' smoky voice dips and dives languidly against droning organs and sinewy bending guitar leads. With its gently strummed acoustic guitar, mellow congas, and willowy string quartet, the lovely "Blow Up" recalls the late-'60s heyday of U.K. folk-rock. Additional highlights like "Here in the Dark" and "Libra" land a bit closer to the psych-pop end of the spectrum and further reveal Frances' knack for mysteriously winsome melodies. Land of No Junction is a beautifully arranged set with a strange sonic allure, but more than anything, it's Frances' excellent songwriting that holds up this very strong debut.

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