One By One

On the sepia-toned cover of his debut album, One By One, Robert Francis strikes a hackneyed rock pose, sporting aviator sunglasses and gulping coffee out of a mug marked "California". Yet the LA-area musician's songs are anything but stale, and present a sound as raw and fresh as the coffee grounds at the bottom of his mug. While the album's roots lie in folk-rock, Francis also employs jarring piano lines evocative of Philip Glass, edgy string arrangements, and occasionally manufactured beats to keep his music from going the retro route. On "Little Girl," a Romeo and Juliet tale, he layers an abrasive fiddle over fingerstyle guitar and distant synthesizers; creating a complex, ominous backdrop to a simple, mournful melody. Francis even references the Bard, singing in his sawdusty voice "We were just two people alike in dignity, From ancient grudge to the mutiny of me…" Robert Francis also makes use of banjo, lap steel, and parlor piano, recalling great American songwriters like Dylan or Van Zandt without resorting to lyrical clichés or constructed Americana. One album down, and he's already proving wise beyond his years.

"One By One" MP3


One By One