In his debut album Francis presents a cacophony of genres and themes to his already well established audience and, although a studio creation, it includes many excerpts of live performances giving it a unique hybridity. It was a surprise release from a man who has built his career solely on the strength of these performances, never having even a fleeting worry that he would struggle to fill a venue. Although yet to embark on a full blown stadium tour the artist regularly fills outdoor gigs in his hometown and his sparse international dates are always in high demand.
This truly international album features collaborations with artists worldwide. Francis, clearly confident in his fan base’s reception, has no qualms about including a multitude of languages in the track list including English, Spanish, Italian and Latin. Such a bold move gives the opportunity to appeal to a worldwide market but also carries the risk of alienating some who will not garner enjoyment unless a song is only in a language they speak fluently.
The eclectic nature of the album is also rather experimental with slow tempo songs such as "Por Qué Sufren los Niños?" making extensive use of the string section with a recurring choir breaking up the spoken word nature of this piece. In stark comparison to the bon-jovi-esque intro to the first single dropped back in September. “Wake up! Go! Go! Forward!” continues with the simplistic high-hat allowing the listener to appreciate the keyboard melody just long enough before the reverberating guitar notes ease in leading to the inevitable drum fills and power chords.
It is annoying that this is yet another ‘artist with one name’. Prince, Lulu and Madonna have all beat him to it and it’s no longer a unique feature that can attract people to something outside the mainstream. Francis with his outlandish fashion sense, unfortunate failure to highlight his many collaborators well enough and almost preachy nature does seem to scream “Me! Me! Follow!” rather than “Go! Go! Forward!”. He may be in good company with this self-absorbed public image however, as it has more than worked in favour of fellow musicians such as Kanye West. No matter how harshly some detractors may shout him down.
I recommend you stream the single and then decide whether the album will be at all your scene. Also I’d advise you to keep a lookout for live performances in your country as they can be few and far between. Francis to headline Glastonbury 2016: 3/1