Video premiere: Robert Francis' 'Perfectly Yours'
Any musician who has his first guitar bestowed on him by no less than Ry Cooder has to have some serious musical karma going for him. And it certainly can’t hurt when you learn your craft with the help of a player on a par with the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ former guitarist John Frusciante, who for a time took on budding singer and songwriter Robert Francis as his only student.
These distinctions give a sense of the forces that have helped shape Francis' approach to music along the way to making his new album, “Strangers in the First Place,” which Vanguard Records is releasing Tuesday.
His skill as a guitarist is in ample evidence on the collection, even though his intensely melodic pop-folk-rock songs often more strongly reflect other influences from U2, Coldplay and Snow Patrol. Even the ghost of the godfather of rock poets, Leonard Cohen, turns up in Francis' atmospheric, meditative song “Alibi.”
Cooder lends a hand on a couple of tracks, as does his son, percussionist Joachim Cooder, along with Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell, Francis' sisters Carla and Juliette Commagere and drummer extraordinaire Jim Keltner.
Pop & Hiss is premiering the video for “Perfectly Yours,” a pulsing, gently soaring, pure-pop love song that has sonic traces of Angelo Badalamenti’s haunting scores composed at the behest of David Lynch.
To get things rolling for the new album, Francis will play a record release party on Wednesday for a hometown crowd with a gig at the Troubadour in West Hollywood. He's also landed a slot at this year's Bonnaroo Music 7 Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn., running June 7-10.
-- Randy Lewis