Frances Black - Folk Roots

By John O'Regan
From Folk Roots

It's been a long time coming but finally success has landed on FRANCES BLACK's doorstep. It has been a long ride both musically and personally too but with the No 1 album "TALK TO ME" firmly ensconced in the minds of record buyers all over Ireland at last FRANCES is being taken as an artist in her own right.From her recording debut on 1986's "THE BLACK FAMILY" album and her work with ARCADY and the duet with Kieran Goss and the "WOMAN'S HEART tour and album her vocal qualities were beyond question but being in the shadow of a more famous sister need not bother her anymore. Indeed the support network within the family is ample proof of their closeness. Now FRANCES BLACK stands on the treshold of an exciting solo career and nobody's more surprised than herself to be at No 1.

"I never ever thought I'd get to No 1 and I was amazed the first week the album came out it went to no 5 in the charts and then it went to No 1 and it was there for three weeks and then went down to no 4 and now it's back to No 2"

"TALK TO ME" her debut solo album has several new songs from the pens of Nanci Griffith and Mark E Nevin. Along with material from John Lennon, Christie Hennessey and Donagh Long. It shows her power as an interpretative singer with a wide variety of choice musos including James Blennerhassett, Artie McGlynn, Nollaig Casey and the Fairgound Attraction duo of Roy Dodds and Graham Henderson. James Blennerhasset is the man responsible for arrangments The Nanci Griffith songs arrived by post

"The four Nanci Griffith songs that I got, I met her last year and she rang me up shortly after the meeting and said "If ever you need a song give me a shout" so I plucked up the courage one day and I thought I'll give her a ring and see what she says and with 4 days she sent me over eleven songs in the poston tapes. None of them had been recorded so I was absolutely chuffed and it was very difficult to work out which ones to put down so we recorded six.

Another contributor is Mark Nevin "Mark is a friend of James my musical partner now and helps alot in getting songs and is my musical director so James was the one who got a lot of the songs. He got the Mark Nevin songs and the Vince Gill song. Christie Hennessey's "ALL THE LIES THAT YOU TOLD ME" was the first single. A ballad with so much of his range and personality its difficult not to capture the ghost of his range and style. Another song from an Irish songwriter is Donagh Long's "SOLDIERS OF DESTINY"

"Donagh had sent me up a tape and I really wanted to do one of his songs because I really like him and I also think his songs are great and I really wonted to have another Irish

FRANCES BLACK has come through to triumph over her own personal demons and use her experiences for the good of other people. Her singing has an emotional impact that is staggering and the potential within her is being realised. "TALK TO ME" is a choice selection of contemporary songs from the pens of some of the finest new songwriters. The emotional impact is but one of the places where her experiences of life come into play "It's only something that if I feel I can help and a lot of people out there when you talk about your drinking and they see that you can come through it and at the end of it there is success or that you can be strong then it might encourage some people"

FRANCES is a woman of strength and courage she is also blessed with the indefinable "Black" quality in her voice and choice of songs. It might seem like she's chasing Mary's shadow but there are no comparisons. They are both great singers who have access to the best songs both traditional and otherwise to exercise their vocal chords. Its great to see another member of the Black family reach mass acceptance.

"TALK TO ME" is proof of FRANCES'S ample skills as an interpreter of quality songs. She is to quote Joni Mitchell "A woman of heart and mind". Listen to her.