Franc Cinelli – Night Songs

Album Review | Song Circle Records | Review by Marc Higgins | Stars: 4/5

Franc Cinelli mixes the rich acoustic guitar of the classic folk singer songwriter with some more contemporary textures and beats. “Adventure / Love” has the feel of early Michael Chapman, with the chiming guitar, eastern raga like percussion and at times of “Tomorrow Never Knows” mysticism from Franc’s evocative voice. “Stay Strange” a wonderful exultation, like a blissed out “Forever Young” is a great feel good anthem. The song is driven by Drew Manley’s drums and exotic percussion with Cinelli urging us on. “Night Song” with its laid right back folk jazz feel features a superb languid vocal from Franc that is part Leonard Cohen rumble, part whispered Nick Drake. Maybe it was the title, but “Fly” and “Horses” with their spot on acoustic guitar and rich lyrics sounded to me like a later Drake, if things had played out differently. Not to suggest for a second to suggest that Franc is an imitator, rather that there is a nod and a similar vibe.

“Breathe”, with Chantal Brown’s vocals alongside Cinelli’s passioned lead, has a superb gospel feel to it, rising from a “Wade In The Water” vibe into something very spiritual and moving with some great string like sounds. Very moving indeed. “Four Walls” has a smooth louche alt County feel, like late night Lambchop, with Franc confined and crooning. “Rave On” is a romantic rambler song, with a captivating vocal and wonderful guitar part and again an intoxicating eastern vibe. “Walk With Me Jimi” is an upbeat percussive shuffle of a song as Franc speaks the lyric Paul Simon like, describing this larger than life character. Again Chantal Brown’s soulful vocals give the song more a gospel spirituality. Title track “Night Life” is a melancholy love song with evocative imagery and a romantic Spanish guitar while builds to an intense “Pinball Wizard strum. Lofi electronics, Cinelli’s passionate vocal and Laurence Saywood’s rich bass build the song to a big finish.

Franc says the songs come from a place of introspection, it is a definite set of mood music aptly collected under the title of Night Songs. This is a fine album that flows together, full of thoughts and triggering plenty too. A soundtrack to red wine, cold evenings and dark windows, a great listen.

Choice Track: “Fly” (NSV 489)