Frances Cone’s “Arizona” appeared out of nowhere in 2016, prompting a Spotify frenzy that has now surpassed 10 million streams. An ethereal stunner, the song is included on Late Riser (Living Daylight/Thirty Tigers), an album five years in the making. The title track is equally impressive, with a surging chorus that recalls So-era Peter Gabriel. It’s available here as a free download.
The original plan was to put out a full album in 2017, but the surprise success of “Arizona” convinced bandleader Christina Cone that there was no point in rushing into things. “I looked at the Spotify numbers one day and was like, ‘What’s happening? Who’s listening?’ It became it’s own little entity,” she says.
The late-blooming product of a devout Christian household in Charleston, S.C., Cone is the daughter of a pastor who also happened to be an opera singer. “I didn’t really have a lot of musical influences until my early 20s,” she says. “We listened to Christian contemporary music when I was younger. My parents were pretty highbrow with their other musical tastes, so we also listened to classical music. I grew playing Chopin pieces on the piano.”
Cone moved to New York City when she was 20, and the blinders came off for good. Since then, she’s been smart enough to surround herself with sympathetic creative foils, including Lucius drummer/producer Dan Molad, who worked with her on 2013’s Come Back, a well-meaning if innocuous debut. “I definitely knew at the time what I didn’t like, but I was unsure of how to express what I did like,” says Cone.
Late Riser, on the other hand, sounds like the work of fully formed artist—one who’s figured out how to weave the sounds in her head into an wonderfully immersive swirl of contemporary pop, indie rock, folk and even prog rock. Cone had plenty of help from bassist Andy Doherty, whom she met while living in Brooklyn. There, the two recorded five of the songs that would make it onto Late Riser. Also of note is an imaginative reworking of the Miracle Legion tune “All For The Best.” (Doherty is Miracle Legion founder Mark Mulcahy’s cousin.)
Cone and Doherty hit it off personally, eventually moving to Nashville together. From their new home, the duo is ready to throw some serious time and effort time into promoting Late Riser—finally. “I guess now we’ll know if waiting was the right thing to do,” says Cone.