When Frances added the finishing touches to “Grow” in her shoebox sized London bedroom - which only contained a bed, a lamp and a keyboard - she had no idea it would go on to become one of the most cherished new tracks of 2015, a stripped piano meditation on tender love, spun over 1.5million times across Soundcloud, YouTube and Spotify. Now, with two EP’s on Communion, a debut album in the making, and a memorable live lounge rendition of Justin Bieber’s “What Do You Mean”, the Berkshire songstress is shaping up to become one of the most gifted young singer-songwriters in the UK. Her sound strikes a chord somewhere between the exuberance of Carole King and the ethereal tones of Imogen Heap, but has enough youthful whimsicality to happily fleet from keyboard confessions to jilted funk-stained electronica.
Frances’ soul-bearing vocals stand out as a key component in her sound, and though she is only in her early twenties they carry the depth and complexity of a veteran. By 8, she was playing violin; by age 10, piano; by 12 her dad had bought her a songbook of tracks he liked. Not your standard kid’s songbook though; we’re talking sheet music for acts like Radiohead and the aforementioned Carole King. “I developed a little understanding of chords. Once I could do that, I started writing my own things.” By only 15, there was a seed in her creative imagination, and from there a love for real songwriters, like Beck, Thom Yorke and Chris Martin grew.
She studied music at LIPA in Liverpool, alongside other rising talents like the producer SG Lewis, but by year two her eyes were being drawn to London. Writing sessions turned into meetings, meetings turned into songs, and within no time, the sound of Frances’ voice was floating through label offices all over London. She moved into a tiny spare room above a shop in the capital.
Away from her credentials as a vocalist and pianist though, one can’t overlook Frances burgeoning talent for pure and direct lyrics that smack you in the solar plexus. The maternal beauty of “Grow” unfolds in such a powerful way that it can be a song for both lovers and loved ones. “My lyrics are close to the heart and honest,” she says. “I can tell if they aren’t honest enough.”
And it’s that vulnerability and open-hearted honesty that has seen Frances make such a strong impact this year. 2016 has been a landmark year for the young talent that has seen her sweep nominations for both the esteemed Brits Critic’s Choice and BBC Sound of 2016 poll, ‘Grow’ reach #1 in Portugal on Shazam and iTunes and her most recent single, ‘Don’t worry About Me’, amass over four million streams on Spotify as well as hitting Radio 1’s illustrious B list. From humble beginnings performing her first headline shows at London’s Servant Jazz Quarters just ten short months ago to making appearances at this year’s Coachella, The Great Escape, Glastonbury & SXSW as well as opening for Sam Smith at Thetford Forest, Frances has managed to connect with the public the way few artists are able to.
In her short time in London, the 23-year-old has found herself in sessions with seasoned pop songwriters like Jimmy Napes, frequent Adele-collaborator Greg Kurstin and the aforementioned Howard Lawrence, and she’s determined to blend all that experience with her own blossoming talents to create a debut album that smacks with honesty, authenticity and straight up melody. With live television performances across the globe (including Inas Nacht in Germany, DWDD in Holland and the Today Breakfast Show in Australia), her live shows already reaching Norway, France, Sweden, Italy, Germany, Denmark, Finland, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and many more, and a recent US support tour alongside James Bay, all signs are pointing to Frances as the next powerful British solo artist to connect with audiences around the world.