Fran Healy is best known as the lead singer and prolific songwriter of the Scottish band Travis. Travis released their debut album in 1997, followed by 5 albums (hopefully more to come). Today, Fran released his debut solo album called Wreckorder (read: Recorder).
All 10 songs on the album were written by Fran, but Wreckorder does have some guests. Fran managed to get Sir Paul McCartney to play bass on “As It Comes”, Neko Case duets on “Sing Me To Sleep”, and Travis band mate Andy Dunlop plays the electronic guitar on “Holiday”, (Fran and Andy debuted the song on their US acoustic tour last year).
I got my copy of the album on Friday and have spent the last few days listening to Wreckorder. The album is what one would expect from Fran – the songs are lyrically complex and profound, but set to simple and mellow music, but never dull or boring. It doesn’t have the raw rock elements of some Travis songs, but has the sincerity and heart of tunes such as “Flowers in the Window”, “Sing” and “Before You Were Young”. If you were a fan of The Invisible Band, you’ll really appreciate the familiar comfort of Wreckorder.
After several listens the last few day, there are several tracks that stood out. “In The Morning” is a great track to open the album with as it’s starts off slow but builds, setting a the right tone for the album. And the chorus is really catchy and I found myself singing along and interested in hearing the rest of the album. “Anything” is the next track and continues to set the tone of the album with the mellow yet somewhat dramatic and whimsical song.
“Sing Me to Sleep” is a duet with Neko Case, whose smooth vocals are great juxtaposed with Fran’s rough voice. The combined effort is a brilliant song with great old school vibe. It’s one of my favorite tracks, beautiful lyrics, melody and great collaboration.
“As It Comes” is another standout track, and not just because Sir Paul McCartney plays bass on the track. It’s a great dark song and is a bit eerie, but a great love song nonetheless. “Rocking Chair” is another great track, with great violin played by Tom Hobden. It’s a slower song, and would go unnoticed in a Travis album.
The album has two songs fans of Travis and Fran have heard before, “Holiday” and “Buttercups”. Last year, Fran and Andy went on an acoustic tour of the States and debuted a stripped version of “Holiday”, which was included on the live album. The album version has more production and a fuller sound, which takes away from the song – I prefer the live version. “Buttercups” is a brilliant track and is the lead single from the album. It’s such a clever and beautiful love song. The song is a great representation of the album; it’s mellow and meaningful, with profound lyrics and great storytelling.
Fran Healy is one of the most prolific songwriters and singers of our time, and with this solo effort, Fran proves that he is a talented musician, with or without Travis (although I hope there will be more Travis records). Wreckorder is a must for fans of Travis, but really for anyone who appreciates lyrically beautiful and poetic music. It’s very easy to listen to and very simple at first glance, but that’s the beauty of Fran; his songs sound simple, but are quite complex and deep. The collection of songs and will capture your ears, mind, and ultimately, your heart.