A rich, soulful voice, piano-based melodies, a first-name only recording identity and a U.K. passport is perhaps an easy recipe for an Adele comparison — a lofty claim to throw on a young musician. But 23-year-old singer-songwriter Frances has been short-listed for the 2016 Critics’ Choice Brit Award and was named one of Apple Music’s 12 artists to watch for 2016 — all before her debut album was even announced.
“It’s crazy, because your first album is everything you’ve done, since you started writing,” she says from Bryant Park. “So it’s like, ‘What do I want on it?’ because there are so many songs.” The album, “Things I’ve Never Said,” has since been slotted for an early 2017 release from Capitol records.
The album is written entirely by the young musician, who began as a preteen. “Actually, there was a song called ‘Unbreakable,’ that I wrote when I was 12, about my friend who was getting bullied,” she says. “The minute that I sit down to write, I get a song, but it’s not as special as the ones that just come naturally.”
She was enrolled at The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts at the time music began to accelerate. “For like six months I was going on tour, and writing an essay, then performing — it was crazy,” she says. “I couldn’t go to my graduation because I was playing a festival.”
This summer she debuted at larger American festivals like Coachella and Lollapalooza, where “I opened the main stage, and it was just me and piano — it was really cool,” she says.
The album is a blend of early influences from Motown, as well as more current favorites like Tom Odell and, yes, Adele. “Adele’s first album came out when I was around 16, just when I was thinking I wanted to do music, as a full-time thing,” she says.
“It’s weird, because I never try to have a ‘sound,’” Frances continues. “It’s really more about the songs and the songwriting. I just try to have it be really soulful, and maybe it’ll make you feel something.”