Part indie-pop, part rock n roll, part 70s soul, Alex Francis’s “Free” is the defiant, upbeat, inspirational song you’ve been looking for this summer.
But this doesn’t have to be just your summer song. It’s got a little bit of every season—warm acoustic guitars, cool funky bass lines, sweet springy doo-wop-ish vocals. It’s bound to no specific place or age or any realm at all. You could tell me this song was from any decade of the past 50 years, and I’d be like “Yeah, totally.”
Alex Francis’s new single depicts his liberation from, well, everything. It’s a declaration of newfound autonomy. An ode to himself.
In the era of self-care, “treat yo-self,” and acceptance, this song is an anthem. Francis opens with the lyrics
“Keep on talking at night
I don’t hear what you say
Keep on selling what you’re selling
I ain’t buying nothing today”
He pairs timeless lyrics with a throwback groove—a technique that just doesn’t get old.
It’s not physically possible to be completely still when listening to this song.
“Free” captures an attitude that audiences will always delight in. With his lyrics, Francis has created not so much a singular story, but a mood.
There’s two broad categories of songwriting that pretty much all contemporary songs can fit within: the personal experience and the general theme. Sometimes a song can get so personal that it excludes listeners from the experience, but it can also be so vague that the song ends up being about nothing.
But when done well, either type of songwriting can make for an awesome piece of music. And when we get a crossover, a tune that’s got personality and mass-appeal, it usually leads to something that feels special and fresh.
“I’m slipping away
and I’m walking,
weightless I’m wandering,
worried about nothing”
Francis has found a great balance, putting his joyous and retro disposition into a beloved theme. This is exactly what makes “Free” such a universal, “song of the summer” type of track.
Kids will find release from their overbearing parents, teens will see their dreams of moving away to the big cities come to life, and adults will see the shadows of past relationships from which they’ve been set free. While it might not be specific enough to feel like Francis is singing directly to you, he’s crafted a song that’s for everyone, an equally admirable feat. Plus, it’s fun. Really, really fun.
“Free” has the added tenderness of Alex Francis’s vocals.
He manipulates his rich voice to suit each of the tune’s different vibes. From the soft, singer-songwriter zone to the loud, soulful rock star zone. Nothing is ever static. His diverse and large range gives the song movements, which helps listeners to feel as though they’ve traveled through the song with him.
It’s a sort of John Mayer/James Blunt/Peter Frampton sound, like if we took today’s indie darlings and sent them back to collab with the classics in 1977. You can tell Francis has explored his sound. “Free” has a sense of musical authority, interesting and seasoned.
And sprinkled into the song are striking moments, thoughtful and beautiful lyrics, like my personal favorite
“I’m the last thing alive in this ghost town”
It’s rebellious. Cool. Carefree. But it’s also hopeful. I don’t know exactly what happened to Alex Francis, but at one point or another, I’ve felt like him.
Francis is from a small town in Hertfordshire, England, and I’m from the suburbs outside of Miami, Florida. A songwriter has to write so purposefully to make two vastly different people come together through music. “Free” does so effortlessly.
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