In the spring of 2020, Aoife Nessa Frances packed up her things in Dublin and moved to rural County Clare on the west coast of Ireland. It was there, amidst the stillness, that she began to work on the songs that would become her second album, Protector: a personal, mystical journey of self-discovery through dislocation, transformation, and restoration. “I might have been running away from my problems,” she admits. “I was disconnected from myself and from nature, but I found peace far away from the city, where there were no distractions. I isolated myself with nothing to do but make music.”
Recording took place in a small house in County Kerry, at the foothills of the Annascaul, along with Brendan Jenkinson (producer, keys, bass, synth, clarinet) and Brendan Doherty (drums). “We’d wake up early every day and swim at Inch Beach before making music,” Frances describes. “This ritual was crucial for our process. There was an unexplainable joy happening between the three of us.” The arrangements grew with later contributions from Ailbhe Nic Oiroictaigh (strings), Meabh McKenna (harp), and Conor O’Brien (horns).
Protector builds pastoral landscapes through light flourishes and open spaces. Songs float along effortlessly, remaining anchored by Frances’ deep voice. Contemplative tempos tug along atmospheric synths, minimal bass, and shimmering guitar notes, conveying a serenity like early morning. “Writing and recording this album was a spiritual experience,” Frances explains. “I experienced love for my family on a level I didn’t know existed, while slowly putting myself back together and watching the ‘protector’ in me grow much bigger.”