Sometimes what you hear is wrong, yet so right that it inhabits its own place created out of thin air. Such is the case with the final song and title track of Land of No Junction by Aoife Ness Frances. “Take me to the land of no junction before it fades away, where the roads can never cross, but go their own way.” Self assured and fully realised, the album journeys on pathways rarely imagined.
The title is based on Frances mishearing her collaborator and co-producer, Cian Nugent’s talk of trips to Llandudno Junction in north Wales. Yet, the resulting misnomer became a place all its own, “… a dark vast landscape to visit in dreams … where I could sit with uncertainty and accept it. Rejecting the distinct and welcoming the uncertain and the unknown.”
Inhabiting a territory defying easy description, the songs were written over a period of years, instinctively finding the lyrical and musical complexity, while maintaining a fluid style. ‘Blow Up’ and ‘Less Is More’ both touch on abortion, written during the time – very recent – when Irish women were forced to travel abroad to deal with crisis pregnancies. Yet the music is never tinged with retribution, rather a sense of gentle sorrow. Recorded off and on over a period of a year and a half, the songs maintain a sense of coherence. Nothing feels out of time or place.
Sumptuously words and music create a sense of atmosphere that fills the sonic palette without ever giving a sense of being overloaded. There is mystery to this music, yet the fluidity that leads from one piece to the next is never strained. Floating on beds of instruments, the sound is gauzy, yet precise. ‘Here In The Dark’ opens with gently strummed guitar, yet before the tracks end there are layers of yearning violin while the lyrics reveal, “Oh the skies won’t fall over things we said in the hour after light, it’s my very last thought.”
Amongst the love and loss, there’s a sense of fragility, discovery and strength intermingle creating its own landmarks and landscape. Guitars glimmer, strings sweep gracefully, while the use of atmospherics create a blend quite unexpected and magical. At its heart this music hews a path through a forest of feelings. While there may be not magical solutions in the offing, Aoife Nessa Frances takes on the paths that lead to the Land of No Junction. Along the way we discover insights into our own humanity.