Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

Music
cover art

Frances England

Paths We Have Worn

(Self-Released; US: 6 May 2014; UK: 6 May 2014)

All Grown Up

San Francisco-based singer-songwriter Frances England is better known for releasing a series of children’s albums that have won awards and accolades, but it was a strange path she took towards releasing her first effort for grown-ups, Paths We Have Worn. Her debut album was a home recording created as a fundraiser for her son’s school, but word spread about it and a couple of years later England was playing the likes of Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits. When it comes to making music for adults, Paths We Have Worn has a childlike innocence to it: the arrangements are generally Spartan, the songwriting lush and the melodies drop dead gorgeous. England has created and crafted a winner here. Helping out, too, are some rather luminary names such as Cat Martino (who has played with Sufjan Stevens and the Shins), Jane Scarpantoni (who plays cello on Bob Mould’s Workbook record, among many countless other alternative rock albums), and Ryan Lott of Son Lux. There’s a certain wide-eyed wonder that Paths We Have Worn embodies, and the album simply moves from strength to strength throughout its 11 song, 38 minute runtime.


There are many wonderful moments to be had on Paths We Have Worn, but probably none are no more brilliant than “Sweet Bye & Bye”, which may be the best Sufjan Stevens-esque sounding song on banjo that Stevens didn’t write. Meanwhile, “Light Brings Color” has Postal Service-like glitchy electronics percolating under the surface. “On Our Way” has a very Belle and Sebastian feel to it with its “bah da dah da da dah” chorus that is infectious and giddy. But, basically, this is an album that plays as a cohesive whole: folk rock gently strummed to the cadence of a lullaby. England’s experience as a songwriter for children carries forth to her first bona-fide record for adults, and she’s carefully created and crafted something very special. Paths We Have Worn is a very good LP with songs about longing, and, should England decide to abandon writing for children altogether, parents will have a very extraordinary gift. This is an album best played after the kids have been put to bed, and you want to relax and unwind after a particularly taxing day.

Rating:

Zachary Houle is a writer living in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. He has been a Pushcart Prize nominee for his short fiction, and the recipient of a writing arts grant from the City of Ottawa. He has had journalism published in SPIN magazine, The National Post (Canada), Canadian Business, and more. He also reviews books for bookwookie.ca.


discussion by

Comments
Now on PopMatters
PM Picks
Announcements

© 1999-2014 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters.com™ and PopMatters™ are trademarks
of PopMatters Media, Inc.

PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.