BROOKE FRASER: Flags (Wood & Bone) * * * * * 5/5
Antipodean singing sensation Brooke Fraser released ‘Flags’ last week to a sold out gig in The Sugar Club. Her first Irish Date at that! Spreading her wings away from home, Fraser is stepping away from significant fame in her home land of New Zealand, where she is an eight times platinum selling artists and has packed up her bags to go on the road to push her new album and gain new fans.
The album is occupied and formed out of vivid tales of stories and characters with intro-centric tunes, catchy hooks and clever production. Fraser drew inspiration from characters other than herself and opted for colourful storytelling on Flags. The result is an enchanting storybook of soft lingering melodic songs that creep in on you and refuse to leave. There is an astonishingly simple yet diverse catalogue of charming songs on this album that will indeed win over new fans.
Her exploration of different instruments and soundscapes add to the whole feel of the album and show off her potentially flawless ability at production. Standout tracks include the opener Something in the water (which has over 1.6 million views already!) with its instantaneous sing-a-long appeal and the beautifully sparse “Sailboats.”
This is a MUST for the music collection. It doesn’t get any better than this.
ROBERT SARAZIN BLAKE: The Belfast Sessions (Deadslackstring) * * * 3/5
One of Ireland’s most loved musical Hitch hiker’s is making a return this May. After thumbing his way throughout his first tour around the country, guitar on his back, playing bars, rooms, festivals and fields, Blake developed a deep appreciation for Irish Traditional folk music. May 20th sees the release of THE BELFAST SESSIONS LP. Recorded in Belfast and Bellingham over the course of 2 sessions, the album features trad maestros John and Tina McSherry and Francis Mc Ilduff.
Flourishing songs of the everyday, of love and of the weather against a backdrop of uillean pipes, bodhran and guitar, the album is evidence to this powerful songwriting ability. It is simple, melodic and vocally monotone in Blakes unique style but yet powerfully poetic. Some may, however, find the monotone delivery a bit wry but for established fans it will please, for new fans, it may swagger the appeal. Try not let it, as the song writing is astonishing and vividly alive with imagery. It may have benefitted with more instrumentation and a more polished production, but its all in the name: The Belfast Sessions… which is exactly what it sounds like; a bunch of musicians in one room.
The LP also features his most accessible work to date. Most noticeably; ‘Waiting’ and ‘City Covered in Snow.’ Written and conceived in the two wettest towns this side of Glasgow, informed by his love of folk, trad and quality music. It wont break the boundaries of folk, but it will sooth a rainy stormy night with a dram of hot whiskey in hand.
THE BLACKOUT: Hope (Cooking Vinyl) * * * * 4/5
From the get go The Blackout have captured the energy they ooze in a live capacity and refuse to stop as they leap headfirst – this album is a massive catchy bang that could drain your energy and destroy your vocal chords in a live capacity. Which is why they are earning mucho credits from word of mouth endorsement on their live shows.
The latest single ‘Higher and Higher’ is easily transferable between studio versions and live scenarios. The album as a whole, is not all high octane bowl-you-over-make-you-want-to-jump-around-the-room songs throughout. The compulsory slower track are more than capably filled by ‘Hope (Scream it out Loud)’ and ‘The Last Goodbye’. With an air of calm twisted with their own sound, the band completely cut the screams and evoke the emotions in you that make you subconsciously sway with simple, clean vocals.
They are not reinventing the wheel or anything, but in the space of 40 minutes, The Blackout take you on a wild pop rockin’ finely tuned grungy journey that will test your vocal chords to the max with songs that will stick in your head for a long time.
On this third album, we see a very confident band command your attention- effortlessly. Described as “the preserve of the foolish and the brave, the light at the end of the tunnel and the ball and chain that leaves reality inescapable”, The Blackout already have a lot to live up to just from a one-line summary of their third full studio release ‘Hope’.
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