Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Eleanor Friedberger - Last Summer

Eleanor Friedberger's Last Summer saw its official release on Monday, so it's high time we gave our thoughts on the vocalist's debut solo album. I'm new to Friedberger's music; my first thought on hitting 'play' is that opener My Mistakes is much faster paced than I expected. And perhaps faster paced than its title suggests, too - this is no mundane introspective, but a more optimistic composition that would not be out of place in an indie movie, perhaps accompanying the montage that leads to the protagonist's moment of revelation and the film's grand finale.

Here, though, it is just the first of ten tracks that demonstrate why Friedberger is well deserving of an album bearing her name. Her vocals have a richness that, at times, nears that most distinctive of voices, Annie Lennox; her delivery is at times measured, at others perfectly hurried. Throughout Last Summer, she acts as an additional instrument, helping to form the musical motifs without simply singing to a tune that's already there.
Last Summer - Eleanor Friedberger
High Points

Glitter Gold Year is a particularly original composition - at least in terms of its lyrics - and really appeals to me, although that may be because I'm a writer.

It plays with the digits of the year '2010', never really going into detail but still creating an enjoyable, almost poetic sequence of sounds which manage to deliver a bundle of emotion into the ears of the listener. It also gives a great insight into Friedberger's creative process - I can imagine this playfulness, this childlike babbling of sounds going into every song, combinations of words tested before the best are selected and the song truly matures.

Owl's Head Park is one of the few tracks on Last Summer to have an instrumental introduction - albeit a brief one - before Friedberger's voice joins in. It's a great combination of strings and percussion, which grows as more instruments join in over the course of the song.

The Verdict

I'm always a fan of rich vocals, and Friedberger definitely delivers those, so I was on-side with Last Summer almost from the first moment - once I'd got over my wildly inaccurate expectations of what this album was going to be like.

If the track previews above aren't enough, the video below should give you chance to hear (and see) the entirety of Roosevelt Island, helping you to make up your mind.

It's just one example among a playlist that offers plenty of variety, expertly composed instrumentals and softly-softly vocals - and that's a heady combination for any music-lover. Elements of Annie Lennox and Sheryl Crow are there to be found, but there's plenty of originality in each track too.

Good music is good at any time of year, but I always think the release date of an album is important - and in this case, Last Summer lives up to its name, bringing to mind memories of the warmer months that have already passed while wrapping the listener up in a warm hug that goes well with a mug of mulled wine and a spiced scented candle (you can trust me on that one...).

There's often a tendency for singers to stick to the same time of year for album launches, but I'd love to see Friedberger take a seasonal approach to her future releases - an autumnal collection in the depths of winter, an ice-cold work during the longer days of spring, and so on. She clearly has the talent and the quality to manage such a feat, and it would give us all something great to put on, whatever the weather.

Final Score: 86%
Last Summer - Eleanor Friedberger

No comments:

Post a Comment