I often find the influences which artists, or more likely their management, list as touchstones and reference points to be more usually a statement of what the artist sounds like in their own mind rather than how they actually do. I’m even more sceptical when I see an artist who I am particularly fond of. So seeing Norah Jones name as a “for fans of” tag against Frances Ancheta’s Hidden Gems album did raise an eyebrow. There is no one like Norah Jones…or so I thought.
If there is a place where soul and folk meet, and I mean not just meet but complement each other as well, then it is a place where you will find Norah Jones. I now know that it is also where you find Frances Ancheta. That said, this is no tribute sound or nostalgia trip but the similarities are striking. Her soft, soulful voice, soft jazz infusions, folky lilts and graceful musical demeanour, it’s all here.
Hidden Gem’s is actually just that, an album full of soft, sonic textures and deft songwriting, delicacy and songs which are classics in the making.