One of the best things about music to me is how we discover artists/genres. I have always listened to music of different genres. Of course, some more than others. But it was not until I was watching Avengers: Endgame in April of 2020 that a song caught my attention that would change my musical course. The song was Dear Mr. Fantasy, the band, Traffic. After that day, I fell deep into a seventies funk/soul/psychedelic hole. One that I am still in. And that is how earlier this year I discovered Neal Francis. Neal Francis is a musician from Chicago that is leading the present-day revival of that seventies sound that I like so many others have come to love.
Sentimental Garbage is an EP that Neal Francis released last month. It is mostly leftover songs from his 2021 album, In Plain Sight, which is an amazing album in its right. I recommend checking that out as well. But this is about the amazing EP that is Sentimental Garbage. One of the first things I noticed about the release is it is seven songs, which is my perfect number for an EP. The first track, “Very Fine-Pts. 1&2” grabbed my attention right off the bat and I knew I was in for a great time. Let me tell you, it did not disappoint. The horns on this song are so fun and they pull you in instantly. If you do not move even just a little, you are not living life. Once Neal’s sultry vocals come in, it is all over. You are without a doubt hooked by that point. This is a song that easily could have fit in on the Dazed and Confused soundtrack. “In Plain Sight” is another standout track, it is one of the leftover songs from his album, In Plain Sight. I am very curious as to why the title track did not make the cut, but anyways we get it here and I am glad, as it’s a beautiful song, it’s very Beatlesque. The piano is what standouts out for me, it is a very laidback smooth track. And I like the placement of it on the album. “Strawberry Letter 23” is the next track and not only is it my favorite on the release, but it is also one of my favorite songs of 2022. This has to be one of the best covers I’ve ever heard. Neal Francis did a fantastic job on this Shuggie Otis masterpiece. Again, the vocals shine bright. Neal Francis just has a great voice, there is no way around it, the man can sing. The last track, “Can’t Stop the Rain-Parsonage Mix” is a different version of the song from his last album. There is not much of a difference from the original, but it is still a standout track, simply because it’s just a good song. When I hear this song, I picture myself going down the highway on a nice summer day, windows down, music up, maybe some Zeppelin, ELO, or Traffic. It is a fun time song. A simple song. And a wonderful way to end this EP.
Overall, exceptionally good release. It does its job, as a filler until Neal’s next album. New music from your favorite artists is always a good thing, the more you get, the better. I think Neal Francis may be one of those musicians that put out something every year just because. And he knows his fans will love it. His future is very bright, and I am excited to see what’s next for him.
Follow Neal on Instagram.