Angelique Francis   Long River

When I sat down to write this review, it occurred to me: How do I describe someone that defies description? 

Angelique Francis is a musical enigma. An old soul with a love and respect for the music, but an open mind with the power and passion to follow her own muse.

Add to that her unquestionable talent on a multitude of instruments plus the heart and soul she pours into every note and every word of her original music, you can see why she is able to create her smooth and compelling modern sound. What is most impressive with this album is the diversity of sound in the 14 tracks and the ease with which it flows through the ears and into your heart and soul.

The first cut, ‘Storms from My Eyes’, a soulful blues about the tears of heartbreak and the pain of a love gone wrong. This song speaks to anyone who knows the depth of this kind of betrayal, the lingering and resounding ache left in the heart and the head.

Up next is a cut that sounds like something right from the heart of Chicago. ‘Ashamed’ has a retro blues sound, with powerful vocals and that catchy hook that just hauls you into the heart of the tune. As you listen, you find yourself swaying to the infectious beat and the smoky feel.

The third track on the album is a high energy cut, with a striking beat, that speaks to every Canadian who has ever been wronged by the snow plow drivers who fill in your driveway as soon as you shovel it. Standing knee deep in snow, froze from your nose to your toes, watching that damned plow pull away, you experience ‘Snow Rage’!

The title track is next, a deep, thoughtful and haunting little number about the river of life, on which we all float. The connections we all share, the love, loss and dreams that connect us all. Up next a short acapella piece with a powerful message of personal freedom. Called ‘(Interlude) Take Command’, it is short, sweet and to-the-point, the first of three interludes on the album, and a brilliant way to connect the flow of the style and the narrative of the music!

The 6th cut opens with a late night phone call, that generates the question; ‘Who Is Caroline’ and why is she calling you at 3:00 am? Up next is a wonderful ballad called ‘Right as Rain’ that just feeds off of the power of Angelique’s vocals. The cut is a tribute to the impressive vocal power and range she commands. The 8th cut on the album is a second interlude, ‘You Must Be Crazy’ that sounds like something you would hear in a back road juke joint or front porch deep in the delta. Up next, ‘Out of Your Mind’ picks up on the theme of the interlude, almost as if one song is an extension of the other… with deeper instrumentation and a more powerful beat.

The 10th cut is a complete U turn. A piano driven ballad about love and devotion, ‘I’ve Never’ has a smoky feel, smooth vocals and haunting guitar solo. Up next is the third and final Interlude, ‘Fear No Evil’. A cool acapella that creates a gospel feel, like a choir of angels encouraging us all to take a stand. The next cut opens with a sweet little slide riff, leading into Angelique’s powerful vocals for ‘Heaven Water’. It’s uplifting, blues-meets-gospel, that will get your toes tapping and your spirits lifting. The 13th cut on the album, ‘My Love’ is a celtic tinged blues ballad. It is also another sweet reminder of this album’s diversity of sound, and Angelique’s versatility  as a vocalist.

The album closes with ‘Soul Train Line’, a song that defies categorization. It’s blues, meets soul, meets RnB, meets New Orleans. A joyous celebration of life and a marching song that leads the faithful down Bourbon Street towards what ever Angelique’s next project will be.

I, for one, cannot wait to see… and hear, what it will be. In an interview Angelique told me that; “the river of life is something we are all born from… Despite the many differences and the vast variations that we may have with each other… we are all floating down this river together and we are all connected in this way. We all share the same beginning and we will all share the same end. This was the focal point for this album.”

There’s a Wisdom to this album, a quiet confidence that stretches far beyond Angelique’s years. Long River is a powerful statement that Angelique Francis is here, and she is definitely here to stay! (Terry Parsons)