Live at The Library on Friday, 6th November 2015
Former Leeds College of Music student Fran Minney has been a presence on the live circuit for a few years now but with a hectic schedule of appearances lined up over the coming months you get the impression that she has set herself the goal of breaking out of the regional circuit within the near future and on the evidence of tonight's set in front of a receptive full house at the Library she stands a good chance of accomplishing that goal.
Sharing some musical DNA with the likes of Kate Nash, Emmy the Great and Rae Morris she cuts a striking figure on stage in a polka dot skirt and mouse ears (presumably playing up to the associations thrown up by her surname) but it is her songwriting that ultimately makes her standout. Whilst by no means the finished article yet - she is still a little rough around the edges and her collection of original material is still quite limited in terms of quantity - she exudes a breezy and seemingly effortless talent for conjuring up classy and memorable melodies with the aid of a band of crack musicians presumably sourced from her alma mater, whom she describes as her 'band of blokes', which seems slightly incongruous given their fresh faced youth.
She kicks off the set with Awake, a song that starts off slowly before kicking up several gears during a unbridled chorus that sees Minney testing the upper limits of her vocal range whilst never losing the thread of the melody. Friendly between song chat is a Minney hallmark and newish song Blind comes with a rambling but engaging dissection of the songs meaning - it's about putting someone on a pedestal - before the band launches into a lilting mandolin driven melody with Minney delivering the vocal whilst performing an amusingly accentuated hip sway.
Rise is performed as a guitar and vocal piece and in its quiet tenderness is reminiscent of something like Jeff Buckley's Lilac Wine without ever quite scaling the same sublime heights.
A new song written for a friend featuring a joyous shuffle beat follows but the strength of the set lies in its closing numbers. Leaving Our Bodies is a consummate piece of jazz-inflected pop with a glistening guitar line, a tricksy drum pattern and an instantly memorable chorus. But as good as Leaving Our Bodies is, final song the Chase is the undoubted highlight. A superb piece of upbeat acoustic pop about the thrill of a new romantic interest, it features Minney on guitar and her band of blokes in full flight bringing to life a song that is sunshine in musical form.
For those who have a taste for finely crafted pop featuring grown up melodies that still manage to incorporate a cheeky twinkle and no shortage of youthful joy then LMS can only urge you to go and see Minney at one of her upcoming live engagements around West Yorkshire starting on Tuesday at the Fox and Newt.