Neal Francis Comes Full Circle On Piano Rock Winner ‘In Plain Sight’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

The sophomore album In Plain Sight from the Chicago based singer songwriter Neal Francis is a mix of 70’s radio friendly, piano driven rock and roll and tripped out jam rock. For In Plain Site Francis was inspired by the church he found himself living in, writing and recording the majority of the songs in this unique living arrangement. 

Francis is supported by his touring band mates on the album, Kellen Boersma on guitar, bassist Mike Starr and drummer Collin O’Brien who recorded completely analog. It was produced by Sergio Rios who worked with Francis on his debut and mixed by Dave Fridmann as the retro rock sounds ring out clearly throughout. 

On In Plain Sight Francis delivers upbeat songs while lyrically dealing with emotional pain, writing about struggles with relationships, sobriety, lots of tears, and a touch of cliché; on every song he seems to be sorry about something. Opener “Alameda Apartments” deals with getting kicked out of a girlfriend’s apartment via Francis’ Elton John inspired style of over-vamped instrumentation. The synths and 70’s disco kick up on the handclap laden “Problems”, the slick Jamiroquai sounding “BNYLV” and bass bumping album closer “Say Your Prayers”.  

Both “Asleep” and “Sentimental Garbage” add psychedelic wandering to the mix with varying degrees of success while “Prometheus” works better, finding Boersma’s guitar driving hard, leading the charge while Francis’ piano breaks keep things fresh. First single “Can’t Stop The Rain” is worthy of the lead offering as rollicking piano and the guitar of guest Derek Trucks shine brightly throughout the invigorating effort.     

Francis built these tunes to be taken to the stage and jammed out and while In Plain Sight can become a bit repetitive at times, Francis’ efforts provide solace in making the most out of difficult situations.   

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