Francesca De Valence’s new EP Things That We Had Said can’t be defined by a single genre. It’s pop, it’s smooth jazz, and it even features classical instrumentation. Replacing ambition with honesty, the release allows for an emotional experience that’s rare to find in an era of electronic and dance music. Francesca demonstrates confidence in her wide vocal range, but her true strength lies in her lower tones. Her voice is raw, charmingly imperfect, and impossible to tune out.
‘You Know What You Did’ is a lively opener and features an unpredictable section of improvised scat, hinting at Francesca’s background in jazz. The actual composition of the vocal lines and chord progressions is not unlike Amanda Palmer’s in the Dresden Dolls – but without the hyperactivity and darkness of punk cabaret and instead heralding a far smoother jazz vibe. This may only be obvious to the avid Dresden Dolls listener (like yours truly).
‘Beautiful Night’ is both pleasant and raw, showcasing Francesca’s subtle vibrato through honest vocals. The use of marching snare drum effectively builds momentum in the song, and its style may be considered more typically pop than the surrounding tracks. Title track ‘Things That We Had Said’ is bold, resolute and enjoyably repetitive.
‘Desire’ marks the pinnacle of the singer’s smooth vocals, which glide over the melody line without break, as though every word is combined into one. Gorgeously romantic, it’s unarguably the most emotional track and may be a little confronting to anyone who has experienced a recent heartache. Francesca herself has admitted that it’s one of her favourites on the album and along with its emotional impact, it also opens with a harpsichord passage which pays homage to her classical training.
‘Desire’ makes the following song ‘The Fighter’ feel uplifting through its highly contrasting beat. This track is catchy and tense despite its major feel. While it starts simply, it has great scope for emotional build and provides evidence of the amount of thought behind the ordering of songs on the EP to ensure a perfect balance of moods for the listener’s journey.
Things That We Had Said is an understated release, and through its simplicity and creative concoction of styles it achieves a timelessness that will see it thrive through generations to come.
BY STEPHANIE ESLAKE
This review featured in Aphra Magazine: http://www.aphramag.com/francesca-de-valence-things-that-we-had-said/