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Fran Wyburn Fran Wyburn
Album: Wood For The Trees
Label: Yellow Door
Tracks: 11

Paying her dues by doing the spadework with the release of two EPs, Fran Wyburn now emerges with the full main course of her debut album, produced by Dan Webster. A specialist in the roots and acoustic field he captures her perfectly in a clear and delicate mood.

The single 'Foolish Sea' heads the set with its hint of Kate Bush when she hits the upper registers and continues on an intimate and emotional journey, writing about what she knows best; reflecting personal growth through life's experiences. What Fran has likened to "listening to a friend, snuggled up under blankets in front of a fire, sipping tea."

The general mood of fragility is strengthened by the backbone depth from Rachel Brown's cello, as musical collaborator George Birkett contributes guitar, bass and percussion to add to Fran's own guitar and piano. Vaguely cinematic - you feel there's a soundtrack song or two here for something like Agatha Christie's 'Endless Night' - the intimacy opens up to more soaring arrangements that swirl across wild and windy moors, first appearing in the instrumental flourish in 'Snowdrops And Me' and in the expanse of 'Rumi Said'.

However, the standout element of 'Wood For The Trees' is the diversity that offers a balance taking in the plainly joyful that appears with the lively Summery moods of 'Mr Blackbird' and cheery untroubled 'Happy Forever After'. By contrast there's a thoughtful and sombre sobriety to 'Pass On By' where the solo piano is accompanied by sympathetic guitar lines. 'Sorry Heart' similarly offers a brittle vision presented with just voice, guitar and a piano note of two almost as an afterthought, in a breath holding couple of minutes of a half spoken half sung apology.

A set that has the feel of the sixties folk revival for the twenty first century and offers a kaleidoscopic view through the eyes of Fran Wyburn.

Mike Ainscoe