On the eponymously titled final song of her debut album Land of No Junction, Irish songwriter Aoife Nessa Frances sings “Take me to the land of no junction/Before it fades away/Where the roads can never cross/But go their own way.” This search, indeed the heart of the album, recalls journeys towards an ever shifting centre - a centre tht cannot hold - with maps that are constantly being rewritten.
The album is shot through with this sense of mystery - an ambiguity and disorientation that illuminates songs with smokey luminescence. Yet, through the haze, everything comes down to what, where and who you are. With Land of No Junction, she has built a universe full of intimacy and depth, with lyrics written through a process of free thought writing. It lends the record fluidity, each song in dialogue with the next not only through language, but the way each musical choice complements or threads into another. I would write without putting pressure on taking the song in any particular direction. It all carried itself naturally and instinctively with melody coming first and then structure later. Written over several years, the songs traverse and inhabit this indeterminate landscape: the beginnings of love, moments of loss, discovery, fragility and strength, all intermingle and interact. Some songs—like lead single “Blow Up”— date back to university days, where Aoife studied film. Borrowing its title from the 1966 Antonioni picture of the same name, it indirectly provided the catalyst for Aoife’s broader considerations about being a woman and self-determination - Blow Up and Less is More were written before the abortion referendum was passed in Ireland in 2018 – during time when women were forced to travel abroad during crisis pregnancies. They are both songs about being a woman and finding strength in a forever changing world.
Aoife now currently lives in North Dublin, but spent most of her childhood along the city’s southern coastline with the Irish Sea: she still swims there regularly, and her connection to the ocean is palpable in her songwriting. Born into a large and creative family – her mother is an actor, her father a fiddle-maker – she was encouraged by both her parents to play music from a young age. She took up the guitar at 11, eventually taking flamenco guitar lessons until she suffered a hand injury: It broke my heart not being able to play that kind of music but the injury also made me rethink how I could play and shaped my style today – mostly strumming and fingerpicking.