More about: Aoife Nessa Frances
It’s no secret that life can be monotonous sometimes – it takes a lot to create art out of nothing much and it can be hard to find muses in moments where it feels like you’re drifting through day to day. There are, however, some artists who take this in their stride: welcome to the stage Aoife Nessa Frances, who has created an album out of self-reflection, moving on, and one day ending to make way for another beginning.
Protector is Frances’ second album following 2020’s Land of No Junction, a beautiful debut which incorporates the experience of being a millennial in Dublin. This is flipped entirely in her sophomore album, which follows her leaving city life to live in rural Ireland for the first time in her life; writing songs along the way in the new stillness of living.
Frances has an almost androgynous voice – like if Aldous Harding had a slight Irish lilt – which takes her sultry tone to the next level, making it seem dreamlike when heard in collaboration with a background music composed of the harp and synths. Meabh McKenna’s harp playing on 'Emptiness Follows' (the first single of the album) complements the lyrics which document the loneliness which follows a breakup, and the importance of ‘counting time away from you’. There is an obvious, deeper meaning in the placement of the harp on certain tracks: an intimate tribute to the Ireland that Frances has known and loved her whole life.
"Frances’ underlying message is that time won’t stop for you: we cannot live a certain way based off what we already know..."
Although filled with imagery surrounding a breakup, one can interpret Protector as a farewell to Frances’ native Dublin, a saddening goodbye to the place of her life thus far – while acknowledging that moving is never too scary and contains multitudes of brilliance in itself. Frances understands that leaving something behind is never easy, but we can try to associate parts of ourself, our identity, and what makes us fond of it alongside this: a goodbye is only sad because you care so much.
Track 5 on the album, 'Chariot', is the stand-out best for me: it embodies the self-reflection and preservation of the message Frances aims to broadcast. It teaches us that we must be accepting of uprooting ourselves to further progress in life, even if it means leaving the familiarity and assurance of your comfort zone. ‘Do you know where your story ends?’ is a line that really struck me as guiding yourself to another path – you cannot assume to know how your life will progress if you choose not to take risks and new journeys, and Frances creates such a beautiful way of accepting change.
The album ends with an epic seven-minute track, 'Day Out Of Time', which creates a cacophony of multi-instrumentalism and softly sang lyrics about feeling your feelings as the weight upon you, not shying away from them – it’s easy to burrow these emotions down and carry on, but it takes a certain kind of strength to embrace them and create art out of them.
Frances’ underlying message is that time won’t stop for you: we cannot live a certain way based off what we already know when our time on Earth is limited. This is an album for those who are hesitant to live their best lives because of the risks associated – Frances takes this belief and twists it up, asking us what is the worst that could happen, and is it worth not living for?
Protector is out Friday 28th October
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More about: Aoife Nessa Frances