Frances Madden, vocals, piano, and (on all but 2 tracks) lyricist and composer/ 13 piece band including Ian Cooper on violin
ABC 085 8752
This is one of those CDs that delight all the senses. It is highly enjoyable, it sparkles, entertains, charms and in more ways than one, makes you want to get up and dance. If you want to watch Frances Madden sprinkle her magic you can always have a look at some of the tracks on YouTube, particularly her rendition of The Tango Never Lies. If you do listen and watch, use earphones. Suddenly you’re in the same room as Frances and all the nuances are highlighted including the lyrics which start “Dear it’s come to my attention that there’s a sparkle in your eye.”
It has been said – variously attributed to Mozart and Debussy – that a musical note isn’t as important as the silence before it. This is highlighted in the preamble to the tango. Frances starts with some pianistic calisthenics and after a very brief fermata, the tango rhythm follows. Another pause and we are left to anticipate the rest of the orchestra joining in. The anticipation makes the music that follows, all the more exciting.
The rest of the album is just as stimulating. The 10 tracks include 2 that Frances has not composed. The first is her rendition of the title Beautiful World and a few minutes later she embarks on an energetic version (not that the original had a slouchy tempo) of Peter Allen’s I Go To Rio.
I’ve highlighted Ian Cooper’s contribution in the credits. He is a musician whom I have seen perform and chatted to. He is a first class entertainer and an equally brilliant jazz violinist.
There is no doubt that Frances is one of the brightest talents Australia has produced in years. Don’t take my word for it. She’s been compared to Diana Krall but, in my eyes, she is a far better singer than Krall and certainly more entertaining. The ABC Jazz critic has described her as “one to watch.” John McBeath, ‘The Australian’s’ jazz scribe has written that “Frances has an individual expressive ability, a musical professionalism, a good feel for swing in jazz and she plays fine piano.” In addition, Frances has an impish sense of humour as illustrated by Eric Myers, also from ‘The Australian’ who wrote after the launch of the album in Penrith on December 4, 2020: “On the face of it, You’re Doing So Well sounds like a rather sad tale of lost love. At this performance Madden revealed that it was inspired in fact by returning home after a long absence to find that her orchid had flourished while she was away.”
Even if you’re not into jazz or dancing or expressing your feelings when music moves you, I am pretty sure your feet will be tapping to the rhythm and enthusiasm that Frances generates naturally.
And that is the secret of this album. It is natural and because of that, genuine. The rest is a bonus.
About Randolph Magri-Overend
“When I first set foot on the Sydney Opera House stage to act in Boris Godunov in late 1979, I hoped my Nannu Gusi was taking note from up above. He was the driving force behind my love for classical music, especially opera. Since that first step I played out my fantasies many a time in other operas. At the time I was trying to make it as a classical singer…even a young Simone Young was my coach. But I was never successful and later in life I became a ‘disc jockey’ for the likes of Fine Music (amongst others). I also wrote reviews, programmes and wrote articles for their magazine. I hope I can share the joy I harbour for music with you.”