Manchester artist Stephen Fretwell graced my thankful ears with easily one of my top 5 songs I was introduced to in the last year. The slowburn stunner “Emily” is sublimely sad and slightly bitter, one of those bruised and rueful moments of clarity about someone you love(d). But somehow it sounds so winsome, I can’t get enough. One reviewer thought (and I echo), “Emily was actually a great, bleak pop song and one of the most beautiful ‘fuck you’s’ I’ve ever heard whispered on daytime radio.”
If you didn’t catch it the first time around, this is from the Abbey Road-recorded album Magpie, which was his major-label debut (’04 in the UK, ’06 in the US) and went gold:
Fretwell is now poised to release his follow-up album to Magpie this August. Titled Man On The Roof, he’s just posted four new tunes from it on his MySpace, and I really like what I am hearing. The first tune is likely to be the first single off the album.
Scar – Stephen Fretwell (link removed) San Francisco Blues – Stephen Fretwell (link removed)
Prolific songwriter that he is, Fretwell also just released an EP in May: Four Letter Words is available here, and you can download a free track (called “What”) from that collection on his website.
Around this time last year, I featured a “guest blogger” post by my pal/faithful reader Chris in England, who regularly takes the time to make me fabulous and varied mix CDs which arrive in the mail at random intervals and never fail to brighten my day. I am a firm believer in the power of good music in your mailbox when you least expect it to make any day immeasurably better.
Chris and I have remarkably similar musical tastes (meaning his are also superb, obviously). In addition to the old-goodies he throws in, his mixes also serve as a much-appreciated barometer of what is new and interesting over in the UK and the Manchester area (often before it fully hits over here). It’s really one of the best things going in my mailbox.
Chris always sends along commentary with his mixes; he is a closet music blogger dying to get out. It would be criminal not to share all this goodness with you folks, so enjoy.
CHRIS FROM ENGLAND GUEST-BLOGS AGAIN his comments in italics
Chelsea Dagger – The Fratellis I am in love with the glorious stick-in-your-head nature of this song. I’d listened to The Fratellis before and wanted to write something, but nothing sums them up better than what Chris writes: “Watch out for the track from The Fratellis – a bit like Supergrass playing ’70s glam rock.” That is exactly spot-on what I hear when I listen to this -the most apt description I’ve heard yet for these boys from Glasgow- but could never articulate it so perfectly. So I’m just gonna let him introduce you to this infectiously fab tune.
No Matter What – Badfinger “A very old song (one of the first songs I bought as a very very young child), Badfinger was signed by Paul McCartney to Apple and responsible for one of the saddest stories in rock history (two members of the group killed themselves in later life, etc). Anyway I think the song was ‘power pop’ well ahead of its time. You can feel the Beatles influence in the production.”
Silent Sigh – Badly Drawn Boy Part of the three-song sequence of Manchester artists, Chris calls this “a wonderful singalong — the best Badly Drawn Boy song ever.” I find it surprisingly Prince-like (not a bad thing).
Emily – Stephen Fretwell “Scarborough-born Fretwell: name-checked by Ryan Adams and a bit like Damien Rice.” Lovely and wistful and wonderful.
Dear readers, Chris and his services are available for rental if you need a great long-distance musical correspondent. Oh wait, actually he’s not — but I’ll pass along the goodness if he keeps sending me the goods.
Name: Heather Browne Location: Colorado, originally by way of California Giving context to the torrent since 2005.
"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel." —Hunter S. Thompson
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