Valerie Francis
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Valerie Francis

Dublin, Leinster, Ireland | INDIE

Dublin, Leinster, Ireland | INDIE
Band Pop Singer/Songwriter

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Press


"Slow Dynamo VF Records ****"

Valerie Francis is one of several female songwriters (see also Miriam Ingram) who have remained trapped under the floorboards while the careers of their inferior contemporaries flourish, so her debut album has been a long time coming. You can tell that the Dubliner spent time on these songs. The aptly named Slow Dynamo is a steady stream of lush, wistful tranquility, but it’s her marvellous backing musicians – as well as the subtle production of Jimmy Eadie (Si Schroeder, Jape) – that transforms a good album into a great one. The sumptuous jazz-pop of Punches and the measured, airy composure of Cannonball are especially distinctive, while the soft double bass chug of Stones and How’s glitchy rat-tat-tat beat are similarly evocative. Slow Dynamo’s minimalist tone won’t be for everyone, but it’s short enough (33 minutes) to keep patient listeners riveted. LAUREN MURPHY - The Irish Times


"If she's good enough for Kanye... ****"

Being endorsed by Kanye West is a sure-fire way for a fledgling Dublin singer to get noticed. Last month, the rapper waxed lyrical about the cool video for Valerie Francis’s debut single Punches.

A master of self-aggrandisement he may be, but the man certainly has taste — the low-budget promo (directed by rising Irish talent Eoghan Kidney) is really beautiful and the blessed-out song is utterly captivating.

Slow Dynamo is one of those delightful albums that has seemingly come out of the ether. Prior to Kanye’s shout-out, Francis wasn’t even a household name in her own household. It’s really charming, then, when a new talent emerges, fully-formed with a batch of songs that have been brought to life with great care and nourishment.

There's a gentleness to many of the tracks on this album - a late night collection, if ever there was one - and the textured instrumentation is really quite something. Stones boasts a Steve Reich-like hypnotic motif underneath an inventive, engaging, constantly shifting backdrop. "I can feel your smile," she sings. "It's less than an inch away." Words can't convey the gorgeousness of this composition and how remarkable it is that such a mature sound has appeared on a debut album.

Like all the best albums, this is a slow-burner — and a late-night collection, if ever there was one — but once songs as lovely as Trees and How have washed over you, you’ll be smitten. - Irish Independent


"Valerie Francis-Slow Dynamo ****"

An artist capable of magicking a myriad of simple ideas into a layered whole that manages to mystify, provoke, disturb and entertain at will - Hot Press **** - Hot Press


"Valerie Francis: pulling no punches"

It’s not every day that Kanye West and the Irish new music community make contact. But then, it’s not every day that you come across a beautiful slice of eye-candy like Eoghan Kidney’s video for Valerie Francis’s Punches .

The video caught the rapper’s attention, he blogged about it and set off a burst of online excitement.

The story shouldn’t end there, as West’s endorsement comes just in time to plug Francis’s debut album, Slow Dynamo . If you liked Punches, you’ll be in a right tizzy when you dip your toes into this quiet riot of hypnotic, serene and blissed-out pop. The sounds and songs on this Jimmy Eadie-produced album will soothe any amount of recession-related stresses.

Francis has been a fixture on the Dublin singer- songwriter scene for a few years, and a debut album is probably overdue. But the slow-burning, widescreen, chilled hum of Slow Dynamo shows that sometimes, it pays to take your time. - The Irish Times


"Valerie Francis championed by hip hop royalty"

Kanye West has given her 'Punches' single the 'thumbs up'.

Having served her apprenticeship on the Dublin singer-songwriter circuit, Valerie Francis finally gets to release her debut Slow Dynamo album on May 22.

It’s preceded a week earlier by the lead single, ‘Punches’, which has had its gorgeous Eoghan Kidney-directed video viewed over 200,000 times. Those raving about its seductive qualities include a Mr. K. West from Chicago who's posted it onto his website. - Hot Press


"Valerie Francis – Slow Dynamo album review"

After having her gorgeous video for ‘Punches’ posted by Kanye West on his blog, and opening for Jose Gonzalez, Stars, Jape and The Lost Brothers, Dubliner songstress Valerie Francis releases her debut (co-produced with Jape/David Kitt’s Jimmy Eadie) to high expectations and much deserved buzz. Francis expresses a love for Kate Bush’s quirkiness - quirkiness not for the sake of being strange, she says, but for the sake of art. It’s pretty apparent here that while Francis is nowhere near as zany as Madam Babushka, that she shares that sense of “otherness” and has a similar love for all sounds ethereal.

Slow Dynamo is multi layered- chimes tinkle, harmoniums drone and gentle cellos, horns and random blips wander over the usual piano/guitar backdrop- but each layer blends into a soft haze that sits peacefully on an even keel. A heady concoction of blurred sounds act like fireflies in a jar at night, all subtly taking turns to move the fore, twinkling alongside harmonies that make you want to sigh and close your eyes. There’s plenty of music to soothe any savage beast here, the album’s atmosphere is a mesmerising lull that’s both appealingly uncomplicated and touching in its frankness.

Francis’ voice drips with the warmth of a sunny natural space, even on the desperate plea for a lover to stay on ‘Please’ or on letting go on the dreamy ‘Like Glue’.

It’s not that there is any shortage of pain or emotion here but that its expressed from the sensitive kid in the class, the one at the back who stares out the window, dreaming about love and nature when they’re meant to be working on sums. You begin to suspect, that although this kid doesn’t shout or stomp, she’s noticed things you haven’t - and judging by the sound of things, you’d be right.

If you liked Cathy Davy’s ‘Sing for Your Supper’ or Goldfrapp’s ‘Clowns’, here’s an album packed with low-key beauty of both. Expect to hear much more of Valerie Francis and her lovely tunes for optimistic stargazers. - State Magazine


"Valerie Francis ‘Punches’ video"

We like Valerie Francis (the lady behind one of this year’s best slow-burner albums, Slow Dynamo), and we like Eoghan Kidney (the animator whose splodges have graced the videos of Caribou, Stars and FLApes). It stands to reason, then, that we dig their collaboration in the video for her first single, Punches. It might make less sense though, that Kanye West is also an admirer. ‘Ye picked up on the triumph of light animation and blogged it up, to the value of over 200,000 hits in one Easter Weekend while we were busy seeing how many Crème Eggs we could fit in our mouths at once. It was less than 200,000. You win, guys. - Totally Dublin


Discography

Punches - Single
Slow Dynamo - Album

Tracks that have been streamed and have had radio airplay:

All 10 tracks on the album Slow Dynamo

slow dynamo
punches
at most
cannonball
like glue
please
stones
how
trees
the fire

Photos

Bio

On her debut album, Slow Dynamo, Valerie Francis has managed to cross-stitch a work of coal-burning beauty composed of simple ideas, executed complexly. Old synths, harmoniums, bells, horns, drums, and strings interweave to turn accessible songwriting into something to savour rather than gobble whole (tempting as it is to shovel the whole of Slow Dynamo's platter down your throat at once). Drones pass by each other like ships at night, while instruments play a hypnotic hopscotch together without ever tripping over each other's feet.

Produced collaboratively with Jimmy Eadie (Jape, David Kitt), Francis' album is one of delicate intricacy and an artist's attention to detail. Francis' performance within this album is no box of eggshells, however, but a subtly elaborate engine pistoning off steady streams of kinetic sparks – that Slow Dynamo the album name warns of. This album is all about the creation of energy, a resource Francis has found a way to tap. Rather than a gluttonous rush of exertion, she leaks it out at a rate steady enough to power her along for the album's 33 minutes, and indeed, another 33 years, all lightbulbs glowing and turned-up radiators.
Just listen to the opening self-titled track, with its softly humming harmoniums and synapse-caressing vocals. Pick out any other given chapter from Slow Dynamo's contents. Whether the chiming bells and blissed-out orchestration of 'Punches', or the scorched-earth starkness of 'Please', Valerie Francis' person has merged with her sound. She is the forest-scape instrumentation on 'Trees', the playful singsong voice on 'How', and the jazzed-up drumbeat of 'At Most'. As Francis lays out in her aim: “I wanted to make a piece of music that is optimistic and has life.”

“I'm a big fan of people like Kate Bush,” Francis explains, “and albums like The Dreaming which have sounds on them you would never imagine had any place in popular music, however work completely. Not quirky for the sake of quirky, but quirky for the sake of art.” Fittingly, Slow Dynamo isn't rammed to the rafters with gimmicky instruments or gratuitous weirdness. There's no deceit and no play-acting - this is a collection built in the image of its creator.

In case you hadn't noticed it, Valerie Francis' debut album is a masterful example of how keeping your voice down makes everybody want to listen to what you're saying. Slow Dynamo may indeed be a slow-burner, but it's one hell of a bonfire when the spark catches.