Music

Frances Cone Awakens with Resourceful Confessions on 'Late Riser'

Photo: Shervin Lainez / Courtesy of All Eyes Media

Whether brooding and ghostly or defiant, eclectic, and rambunctious, Frances Cone's Late Riser is filled with melodious poeticisms and gripping arrangements.

Later Riser
Frances Cone

Living Daylight

18 January 2019

In an industry focused on quick turnarounds and commercial expectations, Nashville singer-songwriter Christina Cone is an anomaly, as she chooses instead to wait and work patiently until her next artistic vision is fully realized. Hence the title of Late Riser, her soulful indie-pop full-length follow-up to 2013's debut album, Come Back. Recorded under her newfound guise, Frances Cone, and alongside her partner, "drummer-turned-bassist" Andrew Doherty, the relatable collection delivers its confessional and exploratory themes via a characteristic merger of singer-songwriter sparseness and resourcefully full-bodied arrangements. Thus, its disordered and calm in equal measures and familiarizes the duo as a poignantly creative team.

Officially, Cone explains that the LP is about "giving yourself time to create, rest, and grow while also being frantically afraid of its speed", as well as "the impermanence of time" (i.e., living in the present and being weary of the future). The original plan was for her remain a solo artist as Frances Cone (named after her father and great-grandfather), but when she met Doherty, she knew he had to be involved because he was her "partner in several ways", not the least of which was as a producer and sporadic songwriting foil. Influenced by Chopin, Rufus Wainwright, Justin Vernon, and Patti Griffin—to name a few—Cone and Doherty use traditional and atypical methods to bring Late Riser to life; luckily, the gestation period proves quite justified.

"Wide Awake" and "All Along" bookend the sequence, respectfully, by introducing the beneficially empty and ethereal side of Late Riser. Modest percussion, keyboards, and sundry evocative trappings do add some heft, but they are showcases for Cone's multilayered angelic wisps, as they are beautifully chilling in their abandonment and urgency. Afterward, "Unraveling" is warmer and more folksy, with great use of male/female vocal duality, while "Arizona" keeps the pair's earthly singing at the forefront and places rustic guitarwork and reverberated percussion beneath its evolution. As for the ballad "Easy Love", it easily ranks as the best of the ten songs due to how Cone radiates accessible devastation above her scant yet painful and dissonant soundscape.

Of course, the busier selections on Late Riser are on par with their quieter counterparts. For instance, "Failure" evokes Great Northern and the Great Depression as it bustles along with touches of Americana and '60s pop surrealism—strings, harps, and the like—and the title track digs up rebellious self-esteem in its dusty duet. The stilted electronica within the downtrodden "All for the Best" certainly works, too, as does the off-kilter collage of instruments and effects surrounding the heavenly core of "Waterline". That said, the penultimate "Over Now" is perhaps the greatest display of gradual dynamic shifts on the whole thing, as it builds smoothly from near a cappella to chaotic catharsis.

Whether brooding and ghostly or defiant, eclectic, and rambunctious, Late Riser is filled with melodious poeticisms and gripping arrangements. Cone has certainly grown as a performer and scribe, and the upfront technical skills of Doherty— in addition to the multifaceted support he no doubt provides behind-the-scenes—are invaluable in bringing her odes to life. Let's hope that it doesn't take the duo another half-decade to produce a third effort, but if it's on the same level as Late Riser, it'll surely be worth the wait if it does.

8

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Books

'We're Not Here to Entertain' Is Not Here to Break the Cycle of Punk's Failures

Even as it irritates me, Kevin Mattson's We're Not Here to Entertain is worth reading because it has so much direct relevance to American punks operating today.

Film

Uncensored 'Native Son' (1951) Is True to Richard Wright's Work

Compared to the two film versions of Native Son in more recent times, the 1951 version more acutely captures the race-driven existential dread at the heart of Richard Wright's masterwork.

Music

3 Pairs of Boots Celebrate Wandering on "Everywhere I Go" (premiere)

3 Pairs of Boots are releasing Long Rider in January 2021. The record demonstrates the pair's unmistakable chemistry and honing of their Americana-driven sound, as evidenced by the single, "Everywhere I Go".

Books

'World War 3 Illustrated #51: The World We Are Fighting For'

World War 3 Illustrated #51 displays an eclectic range of artists united in their call to save democracy from rising fascism.

Music

Tiphanie Doucet's "You and I" Is an Exercise in Pastoral Poignancy (premiere)

French singer-songwriter Tiphanie Doucet gives a glimpse of her upcoming EP, Painted Blue, via the sublimely sentimental ode, "You and I".

Music

PM Picks Playlist 3: WEIRDO, Psychobuildings, Lili Pistorius

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of WEIRDO, Brooklyn chillwavers Psychobuildings, the clever alt-pop of Lili Pistorius, visceral post-punk from Sapphire Blues, Team Solo's ska-pop confection, and dubby beats from Ink Project.

By the Book

The Story of Life in 10 1/2 Species (excerpt)

If an alien visitor were to collect ten souvenir life forms to represent life on earth, which would they be? This excerpt of Marianne Taylor's The Story of Life in 10 and a Half Species explores in text and photos the tiny but powerful earthling, the virus.

Marianne Taylor
Film

Exploitation Shenanigans 'Test Tube Babies' and 'Guilty Parents' Contend with the Aftermath

As with so many of these movies about daughters who go astray, Test Tube Babies blames the uptight mothers who never told them about S-E-X. Meanwhile, Guilty Parents exploits poor impulse control and chorus girls showing their underwear.

Music

Deftones Pull a Late-Career Rabbit Out of a Hat with 'Ohms'

Twenty years removed from Deftones' debut album, the iconic alt-metal outfit gel more than ever and discover their poise on Ohms.

Music

Arcade Fire's Will Butler Personalizes History on 'Generations'

Arcade Fire's Will Butler creates bouncy, infectious rhythms and covers them with socially responsible, cerebral lyrics about American life past and present on Generations.

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Thelonious Monk's Recently Unearthed 'Palo Alto' Is a Stellar Posthumous Live Set

With a backstory as exhilarating as the music itself, a Thelonious Monk concert recorded at a California high school in 1968 is a rare treat for jazz fans.

Music

Jonnine's 'Blue Hills' Is an Intimate Collection of Half-Awake Pop Songs

What sets experimental pop's Jonnine apart on Blue Hills is her attention to detail, her poetic lyricism, and the indelibly personal touch her sound bears.

Music

Renegade Connection's Gary Asquith Indulges in Creative Tension

From Renegade Soundwave to Renegade Connection, electronic legend Gary Asquith talks about how he continues to produce infectiously innovative music.

Music

A Certain Ratio Return with a Message of Hope on 'ACR Loco'

Inspired by 2019's career-spanning box set, legendary Manchester post-punkers A Certain Ratio return with their first new album in 12 years, ACR Loco.

Books

Oscar Hijuelos' 'Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love' Dances On

Oscar Hijuelos' dizzyingly ambitious foot-tapping family epic, Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love, opened the door for Latinx writers to tell their stories in all their richness.

Music

PM Picks Playlist 2: Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES, SOUNDQ

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES' stunning dream folk, Polish producer SOUNDQ, the indie pop of Pylon Heights, a timely message from Exit Kid, and Natalie McCool's latest alt-pop banger.

Film

'Lost Girls and Love Hotels' and Finding Comfort in Sadness

William Olsson's Lost Girls and Love Hotels finds optimism in its message that life tears us apart and puts us back together again differently.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.