The breakthrough moment apparently came with the fittingly-titled, Stax-like soul of A New Day’s Coming, which opens the record and acts as a vessel for “wiping the slate clean and starting anew”. Ironically, it’s a song that he’s been trying to nail for years – existing in nascent form first as a lullaby that he used to sing to his children, and later as a demo that he’d challenge anyone to recognise now.
“Sometimes I feel like songs are like relationships,” he begins, explaining the extended gestation period for that one. “You meet people along the way and you’re like, ‘Oh wow, this could be really great. But we’re not at the right time in our lives for each other.’ They’re all like little love affairs. New Day… is like saying, ‘Forget everything you know, let’s start from here,’ which works in your own personal life, but also in your sitting down to digest the record.
"That really captures what I’m trying to get across with the name of the record, too,” he adds. “We’re so concerned with protecting ourselves that we build up these obstacles and these barriers that we think are going to keep us safe, but they end up holding us in, stopping us from experiencing new things, and we miss out on so much. So there’s that duality to it.”
Duality is key to a lot of what Frank has committed to record on Barriers. In pouring his soul out on these songs, he’s had to expose parts of himself that even he feels uncomfortable with. It’s a cleansing of sorts; expelling all that he’s had bottled up inside and exploding into full view for the first time – a kind of recorded caterpillar metamorphosing into a butterfly.
“You have to remain hopeful, to wipe the slate clean and start anew,” he reflects on the process. “Because not every day is going to be great. Some days are gonna fucking suck, but you have to get back up, brush it off and fucking try again. You have to. Quitting is not an option. There are so many things in this world that are designed to bring us down, that’ll make us bleed and hurt. We don’t need to be an extra thing on top of it all.”
Despite all of the evidence to the contrary in the world around us, Frank can, however, see a distant silver lining in the clouds above.
“I do feel like, as far as times are concerned, it’s cyclical,” he offers by way of a hopeful parting message. “There is going to be a rain to wash this all away. Not to say that we need to take a passive backseat to it – we need to be violent and active in doing things to create that change – but we can’t just say, ‘Oh, everything’s fucked, it’s over. Burn it down.’ We have to turn the hose on and wash the scum off the streets.”
And that lack of resolution gnawing at the back of his mind all this time? All part of life’s great mystery. That’s as much as he’s got for now, and maybe that’s just fine.
“Sometimes you just end up with more questions in life,” Frank admits, wryly. “I like that dialogue of ‘what if?’ That search is not about finding answers. That searching and asking those questions? That’s the growth. It’s like life – we don’t know why we’re here, but all we can do is keep asking questions…”