There’s something humble about Sophie Frances Cooke. From bubbly chats with the audience on stage, to the passion poured into her songs, it’s a sense of personality which shines through in Frances’ music in whatever form that may take. Now, she opens her heart and soul in her emotional and powerful debut album, Things I Never Said.
It begins with Don’t Worry About Me – the opening verse of which is solely Frances’ vocals. The soft, delicate solo is a deep and impassioned introduction to a song full of harmony and feeling, as well as being the perfect way to set the tone for the record.
What follows is a track which is in direct contrast to the album’s opening song. Love Me Again. It’s more upbeat in nature, with bouncy lyrics under delicate piano notes. We hear drums for the first time on the album, with offbeat bass drums and open hi-hats to create a fluid song.
The driving drums can also be heard in Drifting, aided by the sharp piano chords in the chorus which push the song forward. It’s the last of the vibrant songs before Cloud 9, which is more like Don’t Worry About Me in tone with minimalistic piano, backing vocals and percussion to aid Frances’ voice. It’s yet another song which places emphasis on the 23-year-old’s voice.
Let it Out marks the start of five back-to-back singles taken from the album, and the transition from mellow to pop. The ballad sees a different form of soul – backed up with a relaxed, rhythmic drum beat – to juxtapose the more smooth, stripped back songs at the beginning of the record. Simply put, it’s the start of Things I’ve Never Said‘s pop crescendo.
It continues with No Matter, with Frances deviating from the piano and instead, picking up the guitar. Plucky riffs introduce this track in what is a very pop-sounding song. From the instrumental chorus, to slight vocal distortion and repetitive vocals, there’s a lot of elements to No Matter which makes it an upbeat, groovy hit.
The drums continue in Under Our Feet, driving the song forward in the second verse. Compared to No Matter, it’s an alternative pop song with a similar tone, explored through a more summery, slightly exotic track. Then, at the end, we hear a mesmerising piano solo which clearly signifies the fading of the aforementioned crescendo.
This sets the scene for Grow – a strong, fluttering song which clearly displays more of Frances’ vocal talents. With light piano chords to support beautiful high-pitched lyrics, it’s a soundtrack song which the listener can assign their own precious memories to. It’s no surprise that Grow has appeared in a rather humbling Amazon Prime advert in 2015, and in the moving 2016 film, Mum’s List.
Then commences the build-up to the album’s grand finale. With drums being brought to the forefront in this track, Say it Again hints at the atmospheric ending to come. There’s a surprise verse which doesn’t appear in the single version, and the lyrics fluctuate in a rhythm and style different to previous songs. With another instrumental aspect of the chorus much like No Matter, it does possess a more pop-sounding feel in this element of the track which goes against the calm verses, creating a unique ambience before the penultimate song.
Much like Say it Again, the anticipation for the final track is developed with Sublime. Whilst it may seem as though the three-quarter note piano chords and the slowed down chorus (which sounds rather similar to Daisy Bell) sees a return to the quiet side of the album, that’s not the case for the song’s final minute.
Grandiose strings and a complex tom solo on the drums creates yet another sense that this song should belong in a movie (there’s definitely some Pirates of the Caribbean vibes, one would argue), and could even have been an incredible ending to a strong debut album which displays Frances’ many talents as an artist.
Instead, Things I’ve Never Said ended the way it began: in the form of a harmonic, sad and heart-breaking track. The Last Word – which is presumably about the ending of a relationship – strikes the same chord as Don’t Worry About Me. It brings the album to a close, creating an atmosphere that will no doubt leave listeners in a peaceful state of catharsis after being taken on an emotional journey.
Frances’ debut album, Things I’ve Never Said, is out on Friday.
I was given an advance listen of the album by a press agency in exchange for writing a review. I did not receive payment and all opinions stated are honest and my own.