Kathleen Frances, a Bristol-based British singer songwriter, has just released her first EP. Through the Blue follows on from a slew of recent singles that amply showcase Frances’ gorgeous low vocal register, and it’s already clear that she is a star well on the rise.
Through the Blue is an evocative, stirring body of work that draws from the strengths of her previous releases. Track 1, ‘Shout Love’, is a subdued expression of profound feeling. “No, I won’t save my breath, no, I won’t count to ten,” she sings, backed by piano-led instrumentals, “oh, I shout love”. It’s an opening tune that’s full of hope, cloaked in Frances’ signature soulfulness.
‘Grown’, meanwhile, dials up the meditative reflecting and finds the singer lost in remembrance of the past. The theme of nostalgia is further imbued with feeling by its ghostly chorus. This song, in particular, conjures up the image of an early, pale blue sky and dawn breaking, melding into the EP’s beguiling cover art. “When it fades into a golden haze,” she sings, baritone vocals full of expression, “And we’ll say nothing ever beats our glory days”.
‘Background’ is the shortest track of the EP, with its hazy opening instrumentals reminiscent of Beach House-esque dream-pop mixed with Bon Iver melancholia. Speaking to The Rodeo about this track, Frances explained, “I wanted a moment away from a body of work that is predominantly introverted and self-reflective. So I flipped the lens to being the person in the background of everyone else’s lives.”
‘Boy’, meanwhile, is a beautiful meditation on slowly growing apart in a relationship, setting this tone immediately with the opening line, “I’m not the same as before”. The gliding chorus, punctuated by emotive lyricism, places Frances’ impressive vocals front-and-centre. “I can feel regret forming on my fingertips when he holds me,” she sings, both the words and their cadence holding great depths of untapped emotion.
‘Baby Blue’ plays with a more rising-and-falling piano melody, interspersed with the temporally focused lyrics – “like the seasons, you’ll be back”. It’s the most instrumentally experimental track of the EP. And it concludes Through the Blue with a fittingly ambient, open-ended sensitivity, which feels an encapsulation of Frances’ sound as a whole.
Overall, it is an exciting and auditorily luxurious taste of what is to come for the Bristolian musician. If she keeps moving on this upwards trajectory, the best may well still be yet to come.
Words by Eleanor Burleigh