Archive for the 'Folk Pop' Category

Album – Albertine – Brooke Fraser

Posted by admin on 1st June 2008

I love how great music sometimes comes back on you, even when you seem to hit an obstacle. So was the case with Brooke Fraser. Based on a user recommendation from Australia, I checked out this New Zealand native, but at the time, she was on a major label, so I thought little of it and continued to scout for other artists. Fast forward over a year and I got an unsolicited submission from one of the PR/communications companies I work closely with. I had a quick listen, and although little alarms were ringing in my head, it wasn’t until I started writing this review and doing a little research, that I realised Brooke was the artist I’d looked into all that time ago.

I have to admit, whilst I really love this album, at first, it came across as a bit too pop for me. I immediately had visions of other singers upon hearing the first song, “Shadowfeet”, names like Celine Dion and Shania Twain. Indeed Shania Twain comes to mind, with many of the songs here, as while there is no directly country influences, there is just something about the style of songwriting that comes across as similar. “Deciphering Me”, is much more my style of track and indeed this is where you begin to hear Brooke’s vocals smolder and the pop side of the album starts to fade.

“Love is Waiting” is definitely a track more to my tastes. It’s long intro and basic arrangement, prove a wonderful vehicle for Brooke’s vocals. “Albertine” is an interesting title track, in that it has a flavour all it’s own. This is very much the style I’d like to see Brooke develop and move away from the more conventional pop style. I can hear tiny fragments here and there that remind me of Jennifer Warnes and even Suzanne Vega, albeit a much more produced variant. This to where I began to get really excited. The following track, “C.S. Lewis Song” reinforced this even more, but here I couldn’t help wanting to hear a more raw version of Brooke’s vocals. The song has a great production, but I just get an inkling that there lies a much more complex and to my mind more interesting voice waiting to break out.

That old cliche of being like an onion, really does hold up here. The further the album progress, the more you feel like there’s another side of Brooke exposing itself. “Faithful” is a track, that I’d say for the first time we begin to hear Brooke’s real voice. This is where I began to feel that she was singing to me and when a song begins to reach out to you in that way, you know that you’ve found something special. I would love to hear Brooke sing this live, with some minimal accompaniment. The further you get into the album, the more that pop overcoat is cast aside, no more so than on the track “Seeds”, with it’s very mystical intro and the wonderful acoustic guitar throughout. The only slight criticism here, is that I felt the mix was slightly off and I felt Brooke’s vocals were at times competing with everything else happening on the track. With “Hosea’s Wife”, that pop influence is back, but this is more intelligent, mature pop and I actually got lost in this track a few times.

The final two tracks on the album gives us a something a little more downbeat, but in my mind, this is just what this album needs to draw it to a fitting close. “The Thief” is one of those tracks that’s stark, almost melancholic, but there’s a real beauty, with some great synthesizer lying oh so delicately underneath, giving the track a wonderful atmosphere. “Hymn” is the final track and again, a very simple piano arrangement to accompany Brooke’s vocals, with some great strings interjecting here and there.

Conclusion : While this is certainly not an album that I would have gone out to purchase, based on the few tracks available on MySpace, it is most definitely one I am glad I had the fortune to really get to listen to. If you can overcome the strong pop overtones that are present in the first few tracks, what you have left are some fantastic arrangements and above all else an amazing voice, that really shines.

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