Story by Peter Jabs
Photos by Chris Merkley
The near capacity crowd at the Murillo Community Centre on October 12 gave a warm round of applause as David Francey and his band stepped onto the stage. Starting out as a folk singer and songwriter relatively late in life, David has progressed to the front ranks of his field winning many fans with his warm accented voice and lilting, folkie songs that are both personal and cosmic at the same time. Although he claims luck to be a major contributor to his success, it is in no small part that encouragement from his wife and hard work had to do with it. Francey emigrated from Scotland and spent decades labouring his way across Canada, all the while constructing songs in his head. Only as recently as 1999 did he release his first album, Torn Screen Door. Songs from So Say we All, his ninth CD since, comprised half the set list.
These latest songs reflect the efforts Francey has been making to verbalize and put to music his struggles with depression resulting from life experiences. “Rain,” “Cheap Motel,” “Harm,” and “American Blues” exemplify songs of darker feelings. His accompanists—Chris Coole on banjo, Darren McMullen on mandolin and Mark Westberg on guitar and harmony vocals—performed the carefully crafted songs exactly as planned over the picture perfect sound.
Regaling the audience with a balanced mix of personal anecdotes and music, Francey shrank the size of the hall into a living room. Even after repeating his stories while touring, which he does most of the time, one felt that here was a genuinely charming person. The spontaneous moments, such as when presented with a Maple Leafs hockey sweater, only added to this impression.
In fact only once did he delve straight into a song with no introduction. That was for “Blue Yonder”—a tune performed with voices only late into the second half about yearning for a breakthrough. This song did the heavy lifting it was meant to do and after the encore, the audience went home satisfied.