David Francis,
Fake Valentine
(independent, 2003)

The music on Fake Valentine is very good; the instrumentals are one of the strengths of the CD. David Francis's vocals, on the other hand, are uneven, and sometimes it seems he lets the song dictate how he tries to sing instead of working to the strengths of his singing.

Backing him on the CD are Katy Cox (violin), Anna Clyne (cello), Petina Cole (piccolo), Edward Rollin (oboe), Ira Landgarten (tambura), Patience Higgins (tenor sax), Aaron Russell (drums), Keith Crupi (drums), Drew White (drums), Jimmy Greenwood (bass), Steve Finkelstein (congas and percussion) and Jeff Philips (bass and percussion).

The guitar intro of "Fake Valentine" is pleasant to listen to, as is the rest of the music on this song. David's voice has a flat nasal sound that is less pleasant. He shifts to a more spoken delivery in "Life Smiled," but the song still feels flat. "Reflections in the Mirror of the Life I'm Wearing" has all the smoothness of some of the older folk-rock songs. The slightly psychedelic feel to "Lines in Blue Ink" tends to be a fraction more off than on and takes a while to get used to.

You start off with horns on "Song for a Party Never Held," which switches to the cheesy sound of several older video games and then cuts to the piano and keeps changing -- the connection between the parts is not always there. The "Message" works best when it takes on a dreamy, unreal sound, but the song doesn't stay there the entire time. The lyrics of "Time of Day" are an interesting exploration of relationships, but David's vocals continue to jar. "Vilma's Lighter" is much the same, with the exact same strengths and weakness.

There is an all too brief musical interlude in "Effusion," and then one is right back to the awkward vocals in "They Both Agreed." The CD ends with David using his voice to good effect on "Far," leaving me to wish more of the songs were like it.

Fake Valentine has moments when it is very good, and moments when it is not. In the end I can't help but wish David Francis had worked more with his strengths to show what he can do.

by Paul de Bruijn
12 August 2006

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