John Francis | Strong Wine & Spirits

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Rock: Country-Rock Country: Country Folk Moods: Type: Acoustic
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Strong Wine & Spirits

by John Francis

Debut full-length album from emerging songwriter-John Francis & his band. Poetic, rich, and passionate record delivers an innovative sound drawing from zeppelinesque classic rock, to folk-country & soul. Features 'Heavy, Heavy Love',as heard on XPN, 88.5.
Genre: Rock: Country-Rock
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Heavy, Heavy Love
4:28 $0.99
2. Dear Ophelia
3:41 $0.99
3. Mercy for Cities
3:41 $0.99
4. Vineyard
3:34 $0.99
5. Ventriloquist Waltz
4:21 $0.99
6. Johnny Cash is Dead
4:35 $0.99
7. Philadelphia (You Hit My Head Like a Bottle of Red Wine)
4:53 $0.99
8. Dreams in Repose
4:51 $0.99
9. Love in the Fallout Shelter
4:23 $0.99
10. World Catch Fire
5:26 $0.99
11. Trouble in These Times
4:07 $0.99
12. Boy Blue
6:02 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Born in Harlem, the son of an Episcopal minister / musician, John Francis started to show his musical gifts at an early age. In fact, both of Francis' parents have pipes to be reckoned with. The gospel and folk music of his upbringing happened on Sunday mornings swaying with the church choir, or at home gathered around the family piano with his mother at the helm. As a young child, John Francis used to be entranced by his father's Hendrix records, and his mother's Neil Young and Dylan. He recalls, "the first album I owned was 'Chuck Berry's Greatest Hits', and I wore that cassette out quickly".
At 13, Francis started writing, recording, and performing. At 18, he enrolled as a creative writing major at Messiah College in Central, PA. There he immersed himself in the classics of poetry and prose, and honed his craft as a songwriter. After graduating with a Literature degree, Francis traveled to Ireland where the musical traditions of his family and ancestral homeland added more fuel to the fire. In the summer of 2003, John moved to Philadelphia where he played open mics and small bar gigs for a few months. He met and formed friendships with other Philly songwriters, Amos Lee, Devin Greenwood, Birdie Busch, and Denison Witmer. Phil Nicolo (Philadelphia Grammy Chapter President and producer for John Lennon, Sting, Billy Joel, Lauryn Hill, Bob Dylan, etc) and John became fast friends. That summer, Nicolo offered to produce Francis' debut EP. Francis made quick work of selling out headlining shows at renown venues like 'The Point' and 'The Tin Angel', and his 'Philadelphia EP' was embraced by WXPN (88.5 Philadelphia), aiding in making Francis a well-known performer and headliner regionally. In October of 2005, Francis released the critically acclaimed "Strong Wine & Spirits", produced by Devin Greenwood (Amos Lee, Birdie Busch, The Weeds), and mastered by Phil Nicolo.
With the single "Heavy, Heavy Love", the record became one of the most played on WXPN for 4 months in late 2005, early 2006. All the major and indie record stores in the greater Philadelphia area sold out of their copies within a few months. "Strong Wine..." continues to turn the heads of new fans and music industry people alike. Drawing on the deep waters of rock n roll, folk, country, and gospel music, Francis conjures the spirits of his eloquent brand of songwriting. His passionate live shows with his band have been causing a stir, winning over every crowd in Philadelphia, New York, Boston, Pittsburgh and other cities as he tours nationally. Francis was honored by ASCAP as this year's recipient of the prestigious Sammy Cahn Lyricist Award for his song "Love Came to Me Dressed in Red". Previous winners have been John Mayer, Josh Ritter, and Lori McKenna.
John Francis has been described as an 'inspired lyricist', 'artful' and 'brooding'. Storyteller and conduit, Francis is becoming known for his soulful descriptions of a troubled world. He will peform this October for the United Nations summit To End World Poverty. John Francis has shared the stage with Suzanne Vega, Rickie Lee Jones, Andrew Bird, Ray Lamontagne, Amos Lee, M. Ward, Juana Molina, Peggy Seeger, James McMurtry, Missy Higgins, Ollabelle, Pedro the Lion, Denison Witmer, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Dayna Kurtz, Kelley McRae, Amy Correia, Sonya Kitchell, Mark Geary, Phil Roy, Peter Mulvey, Kris Delmhorst, Freedy Johnston, Jeffrey Gaines, the Hooters, and festivals with Jeff Tweedy, Aimee Mann, Rufus Wainwright, Mavis Staples, and Arlo Guthrie. In 2005/06, Francis appeared at SXSW, Philadelphia Folk Fest, XPN All About the Music Festival, and Appel Farm Festival. It is not imitation that people are drawn to; it is songs full of empathy and fire.
His shows range from high octane rock, to 'hear-a-pin-drop' moments with his audience. John Francis lives in Philadelphia where he continues to write and record.

"It's moments like this when his voice rings clear as a bell that you can hear the political sentiments of an artist whose live shows are just as often a rock and roll Molotov cocktail of vices and verses as they can be quietly transfixing."

Tara Murtha, PLAY Magazine

"With impassioned vocals and intelligent lyrics in the vein of Jeff Buckley, John Francis is set for success. His disturbing storybook lyrics of reality are reminiscent of Johnny Cash, but songwriting weaved with catchy hooks and other pop delicacies maintain an air of musical charm. His most recent release, Strong Wine and Spirits (2005), offers innovation and prophecy in the form of many melded genres - it's a gripping tale of a record, to be sure." Helen Leicht, WXPN Host

John's carefully crafted songwriting works so well with his mellow delivery. He's twice as talented as most performers. Gene Shay/WXPN Radio

John Francis and his band have raised the bar" -Philadelphia Music Alliance

"Artful, brooding,(think Damien Rice, David Gray), Francis paints rich, atmospheric portraits of a troubling world in songs like 'Johnny Cash is Dead' and 'Love in the Fallout Shelter". John Francis serves up 'Strong Wine & Spirits and I say make it a double." -Jonathan Takiff,

"Think Johnny Cash meets Jeff Buckley" -Appel Farm Festival Program

"Insight and depth far beyond his years. Whether singing about a passionate love affair or social injustice, there is a heartfelt sincerity in his music" -Phil Nicolo, President of Philadelphia Chapter of the Grammies

"Sharp pop style, intense folk/country sensibility" -Philadelphia Inquirer

"I started playing John Francis' song 'Mercy for Cities' - Intelligent lyrics and a voice that reminds me of Jeff Buckley." -Helen Leicht, Host,88.5 WXPN

"...wide range of musical and literary influences, and a voice compared to the late Jeff Buckley and U2's Bono." -The Metro, Philadelphia

""...whether he's finding the grace in ordinary moments, or sharing his perspective on the struggles of the day, John Francis makes music that captures life in all its minutia and majesty." -The Intelligencer, Naila Francis

"Inspired lyricist, John Francis shone with his elegant fluid voice, a trilling soprano that on "Trouble in These Times" soared like Antony" -A.D. Amarosi, Philadelphia Inquirer, Concert Review of World Cafe Live Show John Francis & Denison Witmer. 1/6/06

"...Johnny Cash is Dead" followed by "Dear Ophelia,"...warm melodic tone with an almost nostalgic feel tempered with quick bursts of hard strumming. With the playing, one couldn't help notice his amazing voice that was able to reach the high notes and hold them. His talent for song writing came through." ----- -The Swinging Bridge Review of Concert in late November, 05



to write a review

Cassendre Xavier

As singer-songwriter...
...and my friend Marty Higgins says, "Good stuff!"
Thanks for the kindness and inspiration, John. May we someday share a beautiful stage...again :-)
Best and hugs, Cassendre. Fellow/sistren Philly singer-writer

Vickie Carnes

Strong wine and spirits
John Francis is an intelligent and insightful songwriter with such depth and intensity of feeling that you feel what he is singing. He is engaging in his live performance leaving you with a sense of introspection that lasts for days as the songs run through your mind. Come back to Emmaus, John.

Matt Peregoy

Dreams Become Reality
After seeing John and his band a few years ago, back when the Philadelphia EP had just come out. It was clear that John was trying to steamroll himself and his group into a special place. Every song seemed like it was not quite there, not quite magical yet. Strong Wine & Spirits is the fruition of a dream. Great music has always made you think, made you dream, made you yearn, and made you ponder. I've seen John play recently, and he is in a much more comfortable place. The songs come naturally, and they are, indeed, magical.

James Grenwod

This is one of the best records I have ever heard.
When I got this record and listened to it, it moved me so deeply at one point it almost brought me to tears. This artist is the real real thing. 'Heavy, Heavy Love', the first track just grabs you by the shirt. 'Johnny Cash is Dead' is this spooky indian chantlike song, gives me the shivers. And my favorite song is 'Love in the Fallout Shelter'. Early Dylan and Springsteen got nothin on John Francis...and his voice is from another world!!

Jay Romond

Emotionally engaging, musically magnificent.
"Strong Wine and Spirits" takes the listener through the streets of Philly and the heart of John Francis; simultaneously at times. The lyrics raise as many questions as they provide answers and the music forces your heart to feel what John feels as he sings. Masterfully done.

Gracie lou

I love it, especially Vineyard and Trouble in these times

Mario Nardone

Great Album, John
In an era where songs are "developed" by paid writers, then performed by artists for hire, and advertised to appeal to the masses, it's nice to know that real know the kind that contains and evokes Johnny Cash's not dead. It lives in music like John's. Thanks for the great show the other day, and for the great CD.

Rachel Bellenoit

Absolutely stunning 1st CD by John Francis. Heavy Heavy Love rocks, Vineyard and that great slide guitar delivers and, Johnny Cash is Dead is haunting. And the ballads are mesmerizing. John Francis has a sweet sweet voice and he writes like a poet. Not to mention he has a superb group of musicians backing him up. All around excellent CD and I can't wait for the next one.