The first time we heard from Robert Francis, he was a 19 year-old wonderkid from Los Angeles, armed with a husky croon and the shimmering, sweeping folk-rock songs of someone twice his age. Seven years later, he’s grown into the sort of Townes-ish troubadour that his debut album promised, thanks to a catalog of tunes that veer between sad-eyed acoustic ballads and heartland rock & roll anthems.
On his latest album, Heaven, Robert sifts through the wreckage of a nervous breakdown that forced him to cancel his last American tour. It’s a classic rock & roll tale of loss and rediscovery, set to a soundtrack of electric guitars, upright piano, pedal steel, and baritone vocals. It’s beautiful; just check out the moody, meditative “Blue,” which rustles up some welcome comparisons to Neil Young’s Harvest Moon.
“I wrote “Blue” on a beach in Leucadia,” says Robert, who wraps up a European tour at the end of the month and hits the U.S. on June 11th. “I was contemplating what it means to be alone. I’d convinced myself my fate was predetermined, and that our lives are distinguished by the way we manage what we’re given, that we should never look back. We must embrace it all.”