Album Review: Jack Francis – Early Retirement

Southampton-based folk and Americana singer-songwriter Jack Francis has just released his second album Early Retirement. This new album follows the success of his self-titled debut, released in 2022, which received praise from Louder Than War, AmericanaUK and Holler Country.

Early Retirement opens with Promised Land which introduces listeners to Francis’ laid-back folk-inspired sound. Acoustic guitars are accompanied by subtle keys and and choral harmonies as the track builds before we launch into Tired Of Trying with its retro-sounding keys and plucky guitars. Francis’ vocal sweeps from deep lows to soaring highs as we reach the chorus of “cover me up and don’t let me down, cos I’m getting tired of trying. When any deeper I fear I could drown, am I strong enough, am I man enough for you now?”

The tempo steps up with Mercy and its funky beat which incorporates jolly percussion and maracas. The harmonies can be likened to a gospel choir when Francis sings “and now I’m down upon my knees, have mercy on me, I need holding” as they repeat matra-like “I need holding, I need holding.”

Previous single Lifeline, tinged with a folk-inflected beat and rootsy guitar licks, is full of depth and warmth. The track’s unmistakable country feel incorporates vintage-sounding keys coupled with Americana-esque guitar strums. Francis’ honey-toned vocal is faultless and envelops the listener in a warm caress. The chorus of “I just need a lifeline to get to the shoreline and out of the blue. Cos I will need a lifetime to forget the memories that I made with you” is heart-wrenching and hints at a love lost and a life that needs to be rebuilt as a result. The guitars deserve a moment to shine and the solo is rootsy blues perfection with unrivalled depth. There’s a touch of the nostalgic about the production and a hint of the macabre about the lyrics and the accompaniment, making it an undoubted stand-out.

21st Century Man is a downtempo ode which allows the depth of Francis’ vocal to shine with minimal accompaniment until the gorgeous harmonies swoop in as the track reaches its climax while Francis describes Forever Alone as a song about “self-reflection, confusion, regret, sadness and a horrible feeling that you are misunderstood by the people closest to you. You’re left wondering if it would be better for yourself and others if you were to navigate life on your own.” The subject matter is made all the more poignant by the juxtaposition between the heart-wrenching lyrics and the chipper melody.

On Under The Bright Lights Francis shares his experience of being a lone musician and how isolating this can be but also how it’s his passion and his yearning to be centre stage will never wane. Merry Go Round is where we hear a slightly rockier edge to Francis’ vocal and the build up to the electric guitar solo outro is an unexpected treat.

The album closes with the aptly named Curtain Call where Francis sings “if you listen close, you’ll hear my curtain call.” With its Americana-inspired guitars with gentle reverb, it’s a stunning end to an album which has the power to transport you to a bygone era and acts as a fascinating insight into Jack Francis’ life as a touring musician.

Jack Francis began his music career aged just 15 when he would perform in pubs, clubs and venues and now has 10 years of performing across the UK under his belt as well as having penned countless pop songs for other artists. Francis has played multiple Sofar Sounds shows, has opened for Flyte and Courtney Marie Andrews and has just completed a two month stint supporting Ferris & Sylvester on their UK tour.

Early Retirement is available to stream now. Find out more about Jack Francis here and have a listen to Early Retirement below. 


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *