I read a blurb on line that stated the following about JW Francis : Born in Oklahoma, raised in Paris, living in New York City, assistant to a Nobel Prize Winner, licensed New York City tour guide and Murder Mystery business owner. It fails to mention his musical talent and new album `Dream House`
`Dream House` was born, three years ago when Jim Francis made the following post on social media about six weeks before Valentine’s Day “If you send me the name of your Valentine, and the reason you love them, I’ll write a song for them on your behalf.” It resulted in over three hundred requests from fans to write songs for their loved ones. All of the songs on `Dream House` come from this project, some of them have been reworked to speak more to the artist’s life, others have remained exactly as they were first written. Ultimately, this is an album about caring for others, and the way we express it.” The songs were written and recorded at the start of 2021 in New York City.
The album kicks off with `Going Home To A Party` where the beat is a sped up version of the beat from `The Whole of the Moon` by the Waterboys according to the singer. It`s a fast paced bouncy and breezy number that relates to lustful intentions when the narrator gets home to their special someone, hence the home to a party, nudge nudge, wink wink line. I felt there was a Paul Simon `You Can Call Me Al` vibe to `Casino` which is a surreal tale of somebody who seems to have an unhealthy obsession with gambling establishments where the only thing they seem to win is inspiration for comic books they are or intend to write.
There was a delightful wistfulness to `Dream House` a song that was written about missing loved ones and valuing other people above anything material. The singer was missing his mom during quarantine and the result is something that i`m sure she`d be very proud of. `Our Story` gently staggers along relating to a relationship that will be made into a movie but only possibly in the narrator`s imagination. A quite captivating indie pop offering where John Krasinski known for his role as Jim Halpert the nice guy on the sitcom The Office and Elvis Presley get namechecked on route.
`Swooning` is a story of one`s light headedness when falling madly in love or lust with someone and wanting the world to know of your good fortune. It`s shared at a fairly rolling pace with some intricately shared guitar chord riffs. I wasn`t quite sure as to what the rapidly shared `Keep it Cool, Steve` was about but it would appear to be about eloping or running off with Steve but confidence of a long term future isn`t high but choices seem limited.
`All Night Long` is a brief low down and dirty late night funky submission with just the line “All Night Long” repeated throughout in a Barry White Walrus of Love ambiance. It`s left up to you to imagine what nocturnal activity is going on. I thought the scenario for `Dream Big` was genius but ultimately slightly unnerving or worrying. It asks the question as to “what if everybody had the same dream” over an off kilter slacker musical textured backdrop.
The wonderfully titled `I Wanna Be Your Basketball` was a enchanting number where Margaux Bouchegnies vocals added a perfect foil and I felt could have been utilised a little more on this charming number. A distant drum beat and a briskly strummed acoustic guitar lead us into `Take Me Away` which is maybe realising you`ve outstayed your welcome somewhere, where things seem to be turning nasty so it`s time to take off to ensure your safety.
`You’re Changing` has a quite funky quality musically and relates to a close friend possibly partner altering their life / lifestyle and this having a positive effect on you, rousing similar constructive improvements in your outlook. We end with a fairly simple but concise romantic affirmation in `Sweet as a Rose` which is more or less the title repeated over a fairly hypnotic aural soundscape with “Happy Valentine’s Day” added throughout for good measure.
JW Francis was aided and abetted on these numbers sporadically with the help of Dan Pappalardo on upright bass, Quinn Devlin on Wurlitzer, and James Woodall on string guitar.
If you have forty minutes at your disposal you could do a lot worse with your time than listen to `Dream House` with its Jangly, indie, laid back , lo-fi art pop tones that will certainly bring a smile to your face and brighten up a dull day..
I`ll certainly be waiting for Jim`s social media post this year and hope my name is chosen for one of his magical Valentine earworms.
Maybe you will to after a listen.
Rating 9 / 10