Land of No Junction is the debut album from Irish folk singer Aoife Nessa Frances, and it accomplishes exactly what a first album should. It establishes a clear style, introducing a unique, almost otherworldly quality. Cian Nugent’s hypnotic guitar riffs serve as a perfect backdrop to Frances’s rich, velvety vocals.
The folk element of the album is particularly obvious in tracks such as Blow Up, with the addition of strings from Ailbhe Nic Oireachtaigh. The strings are peppered throughout the album, enriching the songs with their silken sound. The song was penned in 2018, and it focuses on being a young woman in a changing world, and the accompanying issues like abortion laws. The themes of identity and self are explored in the album, and the acceptance of uncertainty and the unknown. These are all conveyed through her cleverly constructed lyrics.
The album has a haunting, sometimes melancholy feeling, but tracks like Libra and In the End add an element of lightness, while still being in keeping with the album’s distinctive style. Here in the Dark is among the stronger tracks on the album, along with the dreamy title track, which closes the album with a smooth finish. Land of No Junction is an album that soothes the listener. The songs melt into each other, although this is slightly interrupted by the somewhat incongruous instrumental piece, A Long Dress. But overall, it is easy listening in the best sense of the word.
Her debut shows clear ambition, with moments of experimentalism. Frances has taken a risk with her slightly psychedelic style, but it has paid off.
One of the best things about the album is that it is kept refreshingly authentic. There is none of the synth or over production that could detract from the essence of the album. Frances and her band are strong enough on their own.