Stories of the West is Tim Francis, a singer-songwriter from the Twin Cities, whose past is shrouded in mystery, or at least absent. There are no album notes, no bio, only a simple website to stream the album from making it apparent that the launch was sudden and probably independent. This means that the music speaks for itself, and it speaks volumes. Reminiscent of ’90s Alternative bands such as Better Than Ezra, and Ben Folds Five, ‘Maybe That’s Good For You‘ is excellently produced, and very well played. Francis has clearly been playing the guitar for a long time and in a variety of styles.
The album’s sound is perplexing like a well-seasoned artist would produce, and considering Francis’ age this makes sense. The album is light-hearted and good-natured; It neither plumbs depths nor soars heights; It is neither captivating nor boring. This is not to say it is without talent or intrigue, however merely that it is a complexly optimistic collection which takes time to connect to.
Lyrically surreal and reminiscent musically of Blue Traveller, ‘I Don’t Mind’ sings cheerily of guillotines and walruses. ‘Over and Down‘ as cheerful as Gin Blossoms singing Elton John, while remarkably ‘Down to the Real‘ could be John Lennon performing with REM. At first perplexing but clarity comes when he sums up his mission statement in the lyrics from the title track ‘I won’t tell you what I know, uniquely in a song, and maybe that’s good for you‘.
It will be interesting to see what direction Francis takes and whether the album was a springboard or culmination of musical ideas bearing fruit. Only time will tell and AUK will be keeping an ear to the ground.