by Kris Handel (@khandel84)
Come Back to Life is the debut solo venture from Dan Francia, but by far from his first appearance in the ‘indie rock’ universe as he’s had a hand in some very good records over the past few years. Francia has enlisted a bunch of musicians from those bands he’s worked with on this record and has managed to blend all the elements into something exciting and very alive. Francia uses his willingness to explore musical avenues to his full advantage be it searching and pulsating instrumentals, to sparse intimate indie-folk songs.
“Planet in Transit” starts the record off as a fairly sparse electronic hum provided by ebow and guitar harmonics that a little over halfway through transitions into a full-blown explosion of noise shards and bubbling bass that holds everything down with a solid core. Devin McKnight’s (Grass is Green, Maneka) guitar comes screaming in with heavy distortion breaking through the contrapuntal rhythm section work. “Pass it On” is another mostly instrumental standout that incorporates some shuffling drums and lilting and somewhat spooky theremin with some nicely timed flute and sax interspersed. This spacious little jaunt is much needed as it allows for a smoky cabaret feel that throws a wrench into the works and expands on Francia’s musical vision.
“Come Back to Life” is a heart-wrenching, swirling, and waltzing little ballad that that finds Francia and Mike Kolb melding their vocals into pop simplicity as a swirl of keyboard, other electronics and acoustic guitar create a bit of a mini-orchestra. Francia managed to meld a whole slew of instruments into a dynamic little package of a song that hits all of its emotional impact and notes on the perfect level. “Can’t Forget” is a brutal piece of post-hardcore with a full force rhythm section cut through by the guttural howls of Shimmer’s Ani Ivry-Block that are piercing and vulnerable at the same time. McKnight contributes some superb guitar work that’s a bit awe-inspiring but in no way scene-stealing, which speaks quite well to the power and ferocity at hand.
Francia has produced a multi-layered and truly impressive debut with Come Back to Life that reaches multiple emotional highs and lows that are enthralling to partake in. There’s a lot happening on this record and everything managed to find its perfect place to create an atmosphere that brims with energy, joy and occasional anxieties. Francia and his wide-ranging ensemble cast pull a bunch of disparate elements together into a bundle of energy that rarely dissipates, and the enthusiasm fully transmits itself to the audience. Francia stepping into the spotlight with this debut release brings forward a new voice and presence in the music world in a bolt of lightning.