Angelique Francis Takes A Blues Cruise Down Life’s Long River

The Ottawa multi-talent blends blues with soul, folk, jazz & more on her latest album.

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Angelique Francis goes with the flow on her new blues album Long River and single Storms From My Eyes — showcasing today on Tinnitist.

A striking slow-burner that serves as the release’s first single, Storms From My Eyes sets a languid pace to kick off the Ottawa artist’s new 14-track collection. Blues traditions are at the heart of all of the songs, but there are also intriguing nods towards soul, folk, jazz, gospel, and rock along the way. No matter which way the wind blows, however, Francis’ versatile, soulful, and evocative vocals anchor the sound, conjuring up reminiscences of Big Mama Thornton, Koko Taylor, Aretha, Bessie Smith and more.

The bold mix of genres and influences running through Long River — and the sense of connection it fosters — is the key concept Francis wanted to convey with the LP. “Despite our differences, and the vast variations in our personal histories, we are all floating down this river together,” notes Francis. “We are all connected in this way. We have all shared the same beginning, and we will all share the same end.”

The album’s title track refers to the metaphorical river of life — a journey that binds us all together, she explains. “This analogy is the focal point on which this album of completely original songs is based. A multitude of stories, experiences, and emotions of joy, pain, triumph, anger, love, embarrassment, and humour are reflected throughout. Much like life, Blues music is also a river. Blues is at the root of all modern North American forms of music, and its influence has flowed into the creation of many genres we know and love today. This album is not only a beginning to an exploration of the current human condition, but an exploration and consolidation of the many forms of blues, and blues-influenced music.”

From the pure heartache of Storms From My Eyes to the righteous anger of Who Is Caroline? to the joy and devotion of I’ve Never and the revival celebration of Soul Train Life, Long River rolls over an exciting variety of musical territory. As Francis plainly and proudly puts in the album’s description, Long River is “a studio album recorded with live instruments” — many of which she plays, including upright and electric basses, harmonica, acoustic and electric guitar and various keyboards. Joining her are four family members: Songwriter, producer, drummer and vocalist Kiran Francis, saxophonist and vocalist Kharincia Francis, trombonist and vocalist Kira Francis and vocalist Kayla Francis. Rounding out the band are Dave Williamson on lead electric guitar and Ed Lister on trumpet.

The fact that music is a family affiar for Francis is no surprising. She first took the stage at age 7 and made her national TV debut on the Oprah Network at age 13 by composing the theme for The Gayle King Show. By 14, she had already become a proficient multi-instrumentalist and was performing at festivals. In 2018, she released her first album of original music, Kissed By The Blues.

She and her band have been featured at the Keeping The Blues Alive At Sea festival, the Sighisoara Blues Festival in Romania, the Women’s Blues Revue, the Montreal Jazz Festival, the Mariposa Folk Fest, the Ottawa Jazz Festival, the Ottawa Blues Festival, the Mont-Tremblant Blues Festival, the Ottawa Folk Fest and many more. She has shared the stage with and opened for a wide range of artists — including Gary Clark Jr., Joe Bonamassa, Eric Gales, Keb’ Mo’, Jimmy Vivino, Beth Hart, Tom Cochrane, Burton Cummings, Sugar Ray and others.

Listen to Long River and watch Storms From My Eyes above, check out more music from Angelique Francis below, and cruise on over to her website, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok.