Avert Francis - Is He Sleepwalker
Avert Francis is one man with a voice and a guitar. Not the most original set up, I grant you, but it’s what he does with that set up that sets this man apart from other chancers down at your local open mic night. Instead of hammed up covers and overblown love songs, Avert Francis offers simplicity, purity, honesty and some beautifully crafted songs. Is He Sleepwalker is a collection of songs on lost love (Cherry Blossom), the fear of a young soldier off to war (So Many Sons), missing a deceased parent (Mother) and the endless afternoons spent with young friends (After School). Disparate themes perhaps but all connected by the gentle, heartfelt style of this young troubadour who has either lead a traumatic life or is the master of empathy.
The entire album was recorded on analogue reel-to-reel and, even though I’m no techno-expert, this has given the album both warmth and space in equal measure. There are the occasional cracks in the voice and the odd extra buzz from the guitar strings but this all adds to the feeling that Avert Francis has played these songs just for you. Comparisons will be made to Bob Dylan and Elliot Smith, some may even say that this is Frank Turner without the anger but don’t try and pigeon hole this boy too quickly. Francis can switch from a quirky, light-hearted lyric about Spider Man to the desolate realisation that you can’t ask those big questions after a loved one has already passed on. There is depth here and a depth that you would do well to explore. My advice to you? Buy this album, take it in a portable format to the nearest green space you can find, then press play and listen. Just listen and absorb. You won’t be sorry.