Brooke Fraser @ Shepherd’s Bush Empire, 5 October
I READ a review a little while ago that referred to Brooke Fraser’s new album Flags as one “that might otherwise seem a little too serious for its own good”.
For an outsider, and note I no longer consider myself one after watching the 27 year-old at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire earlier this week, one could be forgiven for such commentary.
But watching the New Zealand singer-songwriter onstage is truly an unforgettable display of real emotion and dreamy melodies, coupled with ample songs of a none too serious nature. Fraser is also a refreshingly quirky, genuinely cheerful character.
Over the course of the evening she spoke often at length, of her family, her problems getting to grips with the differences between Kiwi and British Slang (pants v undies), even yelling out to her crew about whether or not certain musical items were needed! It was an incredibly intimate performance, as though Fraser had invited us all into her home.
Fraser moves effortlessly from the stunning highs of ‘Orphans Kingdoms’, ‘Betty’ and ‘Coachella’ to more serious (that dreaded word again) songs built with an unmistakable purpose. ‘Sailboats’ is the Kiwi at her soulful, acoustic best, singing “the tide is out, the moon is high, we’re sailing”.
The title track of her third album is one of those songs that reaches into your soul and takes hold. Fraser tells the audience that music is the only way for her to make sense of this beautiful, crazy world that she lives in. From the seductive lows to remarkable highs driven by soaring drums, Fraser sings “our lives blow about like flags on the land”. This is arguably her finest hour (well 5 minutes), followed by the angelic ‘old’ songs ‘Albertine’ and the breezy pop number ‘Deciphering Me’.
The penultimate song of the evening was a cover of Coldplay’s ‘Violet Hill’ which perfectly highlights all that is good about Brooke Fraser. Genuine, heartfelt vocals with perfectly pitched guitar solos and drum beats.
In an industry now dominated by one-hit wonders and truly unremarkable music, Fraser’s “serious” music certainly struck the right chord with this crowd.
Flags is out now via Wood and Bone Records.