Folk-rock musician Robert Francis seems to have lived an entire lifetime already. His latest release Strangers in the First Place is a slow burn fanned to flames with vibrant melodies and lovelorn lyrics that are achingly preoccupied with the past, despite his relatively short 24 years on earth. Lucky for us, Francis acknowledges the virtues of doing right by yourself and putting the music first to make a fulfilling career saying, "I don't want to die early--anymore."
Son of a classical music producer father and a mother hailing for Mexico whose family brought Ranchero music into the home, the singer/songwriter had a wide breadth of exposure within just his family unit. His siblings even included a hari krishna brother and two sisters who played in various rock bands. Starting guitar at seven, the Los Angeles native immediately took to the instrument and never let go. In his teens he became the only student to Red Hot Chili Peppers' former guitarist John Frusciante. Francis then dropped out of high school at 17 to tour with one of his sister's bands, and at 19 he released his first album.
Ranging from angst-ridden to utter clarity, Francis' sometimes brief and inherently blithe songs come across like a late-night stream of consciousness. Citing Neil Young and Bob Dylan (he does at times echo Dylan's son Jakob Dylan), and poets Stanley Kunitz and Conrad Aiken, his "folky, orchestrated rock sound" is relatable and compelling in its simplicity. But like summarizing a novel into one sentence, there is endless nuance and nostalgia in each note.
Check out our exclusive performance from Robert Francis' at Bob Weir's TRI Studios in San Rafael, CA, plus some insight on life, love and the spiritual nuances of performing from the man himself:
Watch select clips of Robert Francis performing his songs "Heroin Lovers," "Perfectly Yours," and "Tunnels."Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival on June 10.
- Arts & Entertainment