Album Review: Aoife Nessa Frances – Protector

The Dublin singer-songwriter's second studio-album is a rich and thoughtful autumnal jaunt

Though the cover of her new album shows Aoife Nessa Frances basking gracefully in a strong beam of sun amid tropical looking plants, Protector is actually a perfectly timed autumn album.

The Dublin-based singer-songwriter established her forte for full-sounding folk-rock with a pinch of Angel Olsen-esque, slow burning Americana on her 2020 debut Land Of No Junction; but on its follow-up there is a distinct chill and bright tone. This is set from the off, with the early morning blur of opener ‘Way to Say Goodbye’ giving a reflective glow to the kind of realisations found on long walks: “Hard is the truth to recognise/ There’s no easy way to say goodbye to you”.

Aoife Nessa Frances - Way To Say Goodbye (Official Video)

The breathiness of Frances’ voice no doubt adds to this brisk and misty feeling, which eventually falls into a deep slumber on penultimate ‘Soft Lines’ (five and a half minutes long, but not the record’s longest). But for all its crisp coherence, there are enough subtle quirks and curiosities to keep it from becoming just mood music. On ‘This Still Life’ synths fill in colour in a similar psychedelic vein to Melody’s Echo Chamber, while on the gentle bossa nova bop ‘Emptiness Follows’ harps hint at a lysergic otherworldliness before horns add awakening dynamics.

Though it may have been born in the spring of 2020, Protector is a rich and welcome record to cherish right now, a path to make the season all the more mindful.

Aoife Nessa Frances tours the UK from 1-23 November. Find tickets for Aoife Nessa Frances here.