Paley & Francis | Paley and Francis

Sonic Unyon (2011)
By NICK A. ZAINO III  |  September 7, 2011
3.0 3.0 Stars


It's tempting to listen to this Reid Paley and Black Francis collaboration and think: "If this is what they can do with just a few days of writing and recording, what could they do with more time and more production?" But that might actually miss the point. The fact that Paley and Francis wrote this album together over the course of three afternoons and then recorded it in two is part of its charm. There are no big guitars and not much percussion. What you get is two compelling performers and their songs, backed by a couple of Muscle Shoals aces, bass player David Hood (yes, Patterson's dad) and Spooner Oldham. In fact, it's Hood who makes his presence felt first, with his taut bassline on "Curse," the opening track. Francis and Paley have distinct but complementary voices. When Francis snarls, "I'll take a drink from your jugular vein," Paley's grumbling backup makes it sound downright demonic. Each sings the songs he brought to the table, a mix of blues and Americana that suits Paley's Tin Pan Alley, Tom Waits cool. Paley also has the stand-out track, "Ugly Life," a Lou Reed-like encouragement to enjoy your ugly life. As writers, Paley and Francis both understand they aren't so much celebrating their human faults as the fact that they've survived them.
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  Topics: CD Reviews , Music, Reid Paley, Indie Rock,  More more >
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