Frances Ancheta is a Filipina American singer-songwriter and acoustic musician from San Francisco. She has garnered international independent and internet radio airplay in the US, Canada, UK, and Spain. Frances performs both original songs and her own interpretation of covers. As a creative arts therapist and cancer survivor, Frances understands the healing power as well as the empathic connectivity music offers. Ancheta’s vocals tell emotional stories – some of them literal, and others metaphorical. Her poetic work puts you in touch with the sentimental and supernatural wonder contained in the real world.
On the album “Hidden Gems”, all the sweet melody, and all the words are coming through the airy, comforting voice of Frances Ancheta. Her prose is of a high level. Even when dissected from the song, her verses have a natural rhythm that makes them so easily set to song.
The music itself is incredibly arranged, both melodically and harmonically, and the organic instrumental accompaniment to Ancheta’s voice, captivates the ear while not overbearing her – allowing the music to keep its distinctive pastel colors.
There is a sumptuous, lush feeling to “Hidden Gems” that recalls early American singer-songwriter and folk music, yet it has a modern twist. I really love her sense of tone; there is such longing and desire in her voice and words that I find it nearly impossible to not be moved every single time.
This is the type of music that will in most cases be brilliantly reviewed by critics, yet criminally unknown in the marketplace. Which is a pity because it contains the most beautiful words and music. The thing that strikes me most about this music is richness of its melodic content, this makes it far more accessible than you might even expect.
Allow this music into your heart and it can transport you into other times, places and experiences. It will leave you with an aching sense of loss when you have to stop listening to it. Opening with the sweetly flowing “Strong Brave Soul”, the album transports you through a number of sonic highlights. Frances Ancheta comes across as that caring lady next door with a heart of gold, and she sounds as much so on the beautifully eloquent, “The Keeper of the Stories of Your Life.”
Ancheta’s honest, vulnerable lyrics on tracks like “Back Again (You Never Went Away)” and “Time Will Make It Flow” really deserve recognition. Whereas some singers rely on complex turns of phrase to express themselves, Ancheta’s lyrics are so relatable, unaffected, and candid. T
he background acoustic guitar strums on the verses make these tracks a bit more interesting, and the catchy melodies on the choruses work really well. On “I Remember Your Face” the instrumentation is richer and more intense, will Ancheta again provides us with honest, relatable lyrics to ponder.
“The First to Make me Smile” uses the minimal approach of guitar and voice to amazing effect, alongside a gorgeous melody. This song shows the finesse and prowess she possesses as a musician, singer, and songwriter. “Hidden Gems” is a consistently enjoyable album from start to close.
I find something to like on every song. Moving forward, we are met by the upbeat “You and I”, the playful rhythm of “Little Critter” and the sentimental “Now That You’re Gone”. But the best is still to come with beautifully guitar-picked “In The Rain” and the fleshed-out bounce of “Always Remember”.
All throughout “Hidden Gems”, Frances Ancheta sounds confident, while her tracks exude a strong sense of self and she sounds strongly anchored. This album finds its sweet spot with its gleeful acoustic guitar strums. Ancheta’s songs often are cemented by a strong message, and you have to give her credit for attempting to turn her art into an inspiring platform.