There’s already an inherently natural warmth to the music of English singer-songwriter Karima Francis that is highly evocative of the work of such groundbreaking 70s artists as Janis Ian and Joan Armatrading in the textured nuance of her delivery.
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But then you add that underscore of darkness where her roots in the production work of her one-time collaborator Flood comes into play, as do the echoes of an upbringing near Manchester at its maddest and a steady diet of PJ Harvey and Portishead classics on the car rides across the countryside. And on her haunting new single “Orange Rose,” Francis manages to channel those spirits into a song dealing with the fragile balance of mental stability within a romantic partnership.
“The track itself is a romantic song which touches on the subject of mental health, and how people’s mental health can impact personal relationships,” Francis tells American Songwriter. “In a world where we sometimes feel we can’t speak out, we tend to take it the worst out on people closest to us.”
Augmenting the single is a stunning, Paul Thomas Anderson fever dream evoking video that casts Francis against the cityscape of Los Vegas, where she worked on “Orange Rose” along with other new material with producer Tim Carr, best known for his work with such acts as Fell Runner and Typical Sisters.
In 11 years, Francis has established herself a small but mighty discography that includes the aforementioned Flood-helmed The Remedy and 2015’s Black, produced by programmer Dan Austin, known for his work on such modern English classics as Doves’ Some Cities and Massive Attack’s Danny The Dog soundtrack. But as both the single and video conveys, the canyons of Sin City are as inspired as the skies of her native Blackpool.
“‘Orange Rose’ is like a sonic blanket for me, the West Coast saturated sound gives me comfort in my soul,” Francis explains. “I had been searching endlessly for a sound like that, that rattles my bones. The video follows a concept of self-destructive behavior, a constant running away , our fears which, potentially, ends in us running away from the people who can make us whole again.”
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