How a Chicago singer-songwriter found himself living and recording a new album in a haunted church

Chicago Scene

Neal Francis is no stranger to WGN News. He’s been featured on the Midday and Morning newscasts over the years. And now he’s back with his just-released album “In Plain Sight.”

After returning home from touring on the back of his 2019 debut album, Changes, Francis went through a painful breakup and found himself living in a possibly haunted church. He ended up writing a series of new songs exploring honesty and resilience.

A session at Chicago’s SHIRK studios

“I’m owning up to all my problems within my relationships and my sobriety,” Francis said. “So much of it is about coming to the understanding that I continue to suffer because of those problems. It’s about acknowledging that and putting it out in the open in order to mitigate the suffering and try to work on it, instead of trying to hide everything.”

Working once again with producer Sergio Rios (a guitarist/engineer known for his work with CeeLo Green and Alicia Keys), Francis and his bandmates recorded “In Plain Sight” entirely on tape – mostly in that same church – and the resulting songs are dreamlike and reflective, anchored in the analog rock and soul sound.  

Francis and his band are out on tour now and you’ll be able to catch them back at Thalia Hall on January 14. For the full list of tour spots and band info, click here.

At Rosa’s Lounge in Chicago

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