The JamBase Podcast: Neal Francis
The keyboardist discusses his new album, 'In Plain Sight,' which is out now on ATO Records.
Episode 106 of The JamBase Podcast, a partner of the Osiris Media Network, features the return of Neal Francis. JamBase’s Andy Kahn reconnected with the keyboardist to discuss his recently released album, In Plain Sight, and much more.
Francis previously spoke to Kahn earlier this year for JamBase's Cluster Flies Phish covers compilation that featured his take on “Dogs Stole Things.” Neal recorded the cover shortly after completing work on what became In Plain Sight, all of which was done at a studio he built in the parsonage of St. Peter’s United Church of Christ in Chicago. Francis detailed his history of working at the church and later living at the parsonage for what became a year-and-a-half stay.
With a penchant for analog recording, Francis stayed true to form on the new album and described acquiring a 16-track tape recorder that once belonged to late former Wilco member Jay Bennett to use during the sessions. Neal talked about the impact recording on analog had on the songs and recalled an instance when an entire’s days worth of recording was accidentally erased.
The discussion touched on how Francis achieved the cohesive and constant vibe throughout the nine-track album. He also talked about the title track, “In Plain Sight,” that was cut from the album in a fashion similar to Led Zeppelin’s “Houses Of The Holy,” which appeared on the follow-up to its namesake LP. Neal recounted working with Grammy Award-winner Dave Fridmann, who mixed In Plain Sight, and whose previous credits include The Flaming Lips, Spoon, Tame Impala and many others.
Francis talked about drawing from his personal experiences for the lyrics to his songs and how he hopes to be able to tap into the emotions of those experiences each time he performs them live. Francis was asked about the guests on the album, which include guitarist Derek Trucks as well as backing vocalists Carlile and the trio of Allie Bradford, Tramaine Parker & Brandon Lampkin.