Timing matters. With or without you the train is departing; the second hand doesn’t really stop when you won’t wind your watch; inspiration strikes in an instant but its reckoning can take an eternity. In the world of music, the concept of time doesn’t just pertain to cues to come in or a 4/4 beat - it is also equally about patience and the space an artist must allow themselves to create.
So for Christina Cone, the leader of the Nashville-based soulful indie-pop band Frances Cone, Late Riser, the title of her first album since 2013, is a nod to that notion, and her band’s growing achievements-over 12-million Spotify streams, an NPR Tiny Desk concert, well-attended tours, and critical attention-reflect her dedication to her craft. "'Late Riser' is about giving yourself time to create, rest, and grow while also being frantically afraid of its speed,” Cone says. “We spent so much time on this record making each guitar sound exactly the way we wanted, and each lyric is very specific to us but vague enough for listeners to find themselves in it…we committed to being patient and allowing it to become what it should become without pressure. Meanwhile, we were writing a record that is thematically about the impermanence of time, fear of the future or lack thereof, and worry-and also great love-for the present. There’s a nice juxtaposition of those two things that sums Frances Cone up pretty nicely.”
Born in Charleston, South Carolina, to an opera singer turned Baptist preacher father and public-school music teacher mother, Cone grew up training classically on piano and in singing. The Cone family is full of artists, including her 95-year-old grandmother who studied the organ at Juilliard in the 1930s, and Christina’s brother, Stephen, a successful filmmaker whose most recent movie landed on many of 2017’s best-of lists. Making the decision to commit her life to music, Cone moved to Brooklyn after college and started Frances Cone-named for her father and great-grandfather, both born decades apart on the same day, September 11-as a solo project in 2012.
Cone wrote the songs for her debut album, 2013’s Come Back, by herself and recorded them with the assistance of engineer and producer Dan Molad, whom she had seen drumming with the indie band Lucius at a show in New York City. She fully intended to helm Frances Cone alone while performing with an auditioned band, and that plan seemed to be working-until she met drummer-turned-bassist Andrew Doherty on 12/12/12 and eventually came to the realization nearly a year later that he held a bit more of her attention than she had initially understood. “When Andy joined the band, it felt like I finally had found my partner-in several ways,” Cone says. “It felt so nice to have a creative match. And soon it morphed into this partnership, both professionally and romantically-an overwhelming love.” Cone and Doherty began dating, and simultaneously started a shared creative experience that today forms the core of Frances Cone’s artistic process.