Holler are proud to present a monthly series of live sessions in proud partnership with Under The Apple Tree.
Each month we'll share some of the exciting mainstays and rising stars within the country, Americana and roots scenes, as picked by Holler's own Head of Music, Baylen Leonard.
This month, it's a pleasure to introduce you to the soulful Jack Francis. Watch his live session, where he performs his song 'A Little Love', below:
Jack Francis has offered a joyous and affable statement in the form of his self-titled debut album, released this past month into the world.
The record is a delectable mix of raw soul, honest country heart and undeniable British resolve, all wrapped in the unwavering knowledge that the wheel of life keeps on turning. His vulnerability is a strength, inflecting his songwriting with an empathy that wraps around you as much as the simmering trumpets that pepper his music.
It's waking up on a Saturday morning after a heavy night as the sun is peeking in, letting you know that, actually, everything will be alright in the end.
Holler caught up with Jack to discuss the making of his first album, how James Taylor is an influence on his music and how drawing on various experiences informs his songs.
Where are you from and how has that influenced your music?
I’m from Southampton on the south coast of the U.K. To be perfectly honest, where I grew up hasn’t really influenced the kind of music that I make. I’ve definitely taken inspiration from the people around me and those I’ve met along the way, but not so much from the place as a location. I come from a very large Irish family, so that part of my heritage and upbringing has definitely had an influence on me and my music.
What did you listen to growing up?
Brit pop bands of the 90s, British bands from the 60s like The Beatles and The Kinks, American songwriters like Paul Simon and James Taylor and lots of soul music from the likes of Ray Charles, The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Aretha etc. This is the music that shaped my love of songs and songwriting.
Did that change as you got older?
I think it develops and grows as you get older and you become a little more open-minded. I still like all of those, but I also like a lot more now! There are some bands/artists that you grow into. You may not get them as a 16-year-old, but by the time you’re in your late twenties, you have a bit more experience and can relate to their lyrics and themes.
When and where did you write the songs for your self-titled album?
I wrote all of these songs over the course of about five years. Some tracks on the album are a few years old and some are newer. Throughout that whole time, I was constantly travelling around, playing shows, meeting people and was even in and out of a recording/publishing contract. So, needless to say, I was drawing from several different angles and experiences which helped to shape these songs.
Where did you record it and what was it like?
I recorded the album with my good friends Ferris & Sylvester at their home studio in Wiltshire. Archie (Sylvester) and I shut ourselves away for a couple of weeks and just cracked on with it. It was a fantastic experience for all of us and we had a great time making it. We had a few other musicians join us occasionally but, for the most part, it was just the two of us working on the songs - I loved it.
With songs, are you drawn to the words first or the music?
I’m drawn to music and melody first of all - that’s what gets me going. If I like the sound and feel of that, then I start to pay attention to the lyrics. I do think for a song to be truly great it has to have good lyrics and strong meaning.
How easily does writing songs come to you?
That depends on the song! Some songs take 10 minutes to write, they come easy and you don’t really have to think about it. Others take months and even years to get them where you want them to be and figure out what you want to say. You have to be ready to be a vessel for the easy ones and be ready to grind for the hard ones!
Who would be your dream collaboration?
I’d love to work with First Aid Kit, I’ve enjoyed their music for many years.
What’s next for you?
Plenty of touring this year and a few festivals in the summer too! I’ve also written the second record, so I’m also planning to start work on that - as soon as time and money allows!
Watch Jack's Under the Apple Tree x Holler Session above, and subscribe and listen to his Deep Cuts playlist below:
Under The Apple Tree is home to the best sessions in country, Americana and roots, both in the UK and across the pond. You can find more sessions from them, including recordings with Tenille Townes, Colter Wall and more, right here.