Every so often, we come across an album that reminds us of precisely why we make the effort. This is why we review every CD we receive: for the chance to stumble upon inspiration in the form of random CDs...for the chance to stumble upon an album like Frances.
The record begins with a love song set to tinkly, off-key toy piano. It's an unusual approach -- and one that could have gone terribly, pretentiously wrong -- but Hogan pulls off novelty with ease. His aching everyman vocals are the perfect counterpoint to his experimental methods, transforming musical tomfoolery into a lovely ballad for the album's namesake. From there, Frances seems to take off in eight different directions, one for each of the remaining tracks. There's the acoustic, chantey-styled "Sale", the mystic sparsity of "Fingers" and the accordion spookiness of "It". Remarkably enough, such variety never makes the album feel slipshod. Borne from the ripe musical imagination of one obviously multi-talented musician, Frances is an enchanting creation from start to finish. In other words, Hogan may be a New York City no-name, but he'd be right at home among the best of today's indie quirks.
...Which brings us back to the point of this whole Splendid thing, and some well-deserved props to Hogan for reminding us how true the motto: you never know where your next favorite album will come from. After all, isn't that why you're reading this, dear unfailing music enthusiast? Why else than to find out about artists like the undeservedly obscure Hogan?
-- Melissa Amos
released November 8, 2004
Most sounds - Paul Hogan
Drums on Snow - Tony Franklin
Recorded by Paul Hogan and Mike Newman