Fraser Anderson releases EP

fraser anderson

A Scottish guitarist, songwriter and singer blessed with a delicate yet warm and comforting voice, the soulful troubadour Fraser Anderson has released four progressively improving albums that have enjoyed success at BBC radio and seen his sensitive yet sensual voice and guitar playing style compared to the likes of Joni Mitchell, John Martyn and Nick Drake.

A love affair with France saw Fraser relocate his young family to the idyllic yet remote countryside of the Ariège (close to Spain and Andorra) for a full decade from 2004 following a tour to promote and the girl with the strawberry…, his debut release. His second album, Coming Up For Air, was made in Paris in 2007. Bob Harris described it as ‘truly beautiful’ and Fraser subsequently recorded two sessions for his BBC Radio 2 show (he performed an additional live set for the BBC alongside Natalie Merchant as part of Celtic Connections). Harris was also among a number of BBC broadcasters to show their appreciation of 2012’s self-released ‘Little Glass Box’ (reissued by Membran in late 2014). A glorious retro folk-soul exploration, the record boasted a roll call of world class musicians such as double bassist Danny Thompson (John Martyn, Nick Drake), trumpeter Dick Pearce (Ronnie Scott Quintet) and a tour de force Rhodes piano exhibition from Max Middleton (Jeff Beck, John Martyn).

Moving back to the UK in 2014, Fraser based himself in Bristol and conducted a successful crowdfunding campaign for his 2016 album, Under The Cover Of Lightness.

Recorded at Real World Studios, it is a mature, sensitive yet audacious body of work that moves confidently between styles and benefits from gorgeous female harmonies, subtle orchestration and often inventive instrumentation. Beginning with the easy immediacy of the jazz-pop leaning ‘Simple Guidance’, it is followed by the new single ‘Beautiful Eyes’, which boasts a chorus that evokes the mid-90’s output of fellow Bristolians Portishead. Opening out from there, the strings assisted ‘Crying From My Heart’, double bass driven groove of ‘Feel’ and the closing pairing of plaintive ballad ‘Five Days’ and piano led ‘Rising Sons’ are among many highlights.

Fraser has toured extensively in France, Switzerland and Canada since the release of the album, and part of the new Beautiful Eyes Ontario Skies EP was recorded in that Canadian province. The EP leads with the album version of ‘Beautiful Eyes’ and includes three further treatments of the song, plus an acoustic rendition of  ‘Crying From My Heart’ and two versions of a new song entitled ‘What Kind Of Man’.

‘What Kind Of Man’ acoustic in Ottawa:

 

Fraser Anderson releases new single and album

Fraser Anderson

There is a quote from Gandhi stuck to the kitchen fridge in Fraser Anderson’s flat that reads :

‘Every worthwhile accomplishment, big or little, has its stages of drudgery and triumph: a  beginning, a struggle and a victory.’

A Scottish guitarist, songwriter and singer blessed with a delicate yet warm and comforting voice, this soulful troubadour has already been treading the boards for several years yet has flown under the radar in the UK, despite releasing three progressively improving albums that have enjoyed some success at radio and seen his sensitive yet sensual voice and guitar playing style enjoy comparisons with the likes of Joni Mitchell, John Martyn and Nick Drake.

The reason for this can be explained by a love affair with France that saw Fraser relocate his young family to the idyllic yet remote countryside of the Ariège (close to Spain and Andorra)  for a full decade from 2004 following a tour to promote And The Girl With The Strawberry…., his debut release. Writing songs while supplementing his income by using his hands in a more rudimentary manner – working in kitchens and on building sites – life was tough, but even in the tiny village confines in which the Anderson’s eked out an existence, Fraser built a loyal fan base by playing regular concerts for the locals.

His second album, Coming Up For Air, was made in Paris in 2007. Bob Harris described it as “truly beautiful” and invited Fraser to record two sessions for his BBC Radio 2 show (he performed an additional live set for the BBC alongside Natalie Merchant as part of Celtic Connections). Harris was also among a number of BBC broadcasters to show their appreciation of 2012’s self-released Little Glass Box (reissued by Membran in late 2014). A glorious retro folk-soul exploration, the record boasted a roll call of world class musicians such as double bassist Danny Thompson (John Martyn, Nick Drake), trumpeter Dick Pearce (Ronnie Scott Quintet) and a tour de force Rhodes piano exhibition from Max Middleton (Jeff Beck, John Martyn).

Moving back to the UK in 2014, Fraser based himself in Bristol and has conducted a successful crowdfunding campaign for his brand new album. Recorded at Real World Studios in November 2015, Under The Cover Of Lightness is a mature, sensitive yet audacious body of work that deserves an audience well beyond Fraser’s existing fanbase. Moving confidently between styles and benefitting from gorgeous female harmonies, subtle orchestration and often inventive instrumentation, it begins with the easy immediacy of the jazz-pop leaning ‘Simple Guidance’ followed by Beautiful Eyes’, the latter with a chorus that evokes the mid-90’s output of fellow Bristolians Portishead. Opening out from there, the strings assisted ‘Crying From My Heart’, double bass driven groove of ‘Feel’ and the closing pairing of plaintive ballad ‘Five Days’ and piano led Rising Sons’ are just a few of the highlights. Crafted with a lyrical honesty, the last of these is a paean to his three children and, taken in tandem with the spoken word ‘With You All’ and referenced throughout this collection, proof that this artist has experienced both the best and the worst of times and has emerged enriched.

This is where the story of triumph begins. Hundreds of people have already pulled together to help, deciding that a world with more of Fraser Anderson’s music in it trumps a world without.

Thousands more are sure to follow.

FRASER ANDERSON – Little Glass Box (Membran 233896)

FRASER ANDERSON – Little Glass BoxRecorded in the Languedoc region of France and originally released four years ago, this has hitherto largely only been available at Anderson’s live shows; however, the German label has now stepped up to the plate to not only give it wider exposure but also persuade the Edinburgh singer-songwriter to sign his first ever record deal…after some 20 years in the business.

His third release (following the self-released 2003 debut and 2007 follow-up), it showcases his warm, husky voice and retro Celtic soul style, given solid support from musicians that include former Ronnie Scott Quartet trumpeter Dick Pearce, jazz-rock veteran keyboard player Max Middleton and double bass legend Danny Thompson, who chose to include the album’s opening track, ‘Rag & Bones’, which sounds melodically not unlike a slower version of Paul Brady’s ‘Crazy Dreams’, on Connected, an album charting his own lengthy career.

Elsewhere, ‘Never Know’, a fond reverie of his grandfather, and ‘Warhorse’, with its forlorn trumpet, brushed drums, laid back jazzy electric piano and the whispered French tones of Anne Francoise Lacroix, will undoubtedly prompt comparisons to early John Martyn while the shuffling jazzed ‘New York’ and ‘Only A Boy’ recall the dreamier side of Paul Simon.

Although there’s up-tempo jauntiness present in the banjo accompanied title track (another Simon influenced number) and ‘Your Love’, with its bluesy Randy Newmanesque acoustic piano intro giving way to banjo and slide guitar, the album’s dominant musical tone is slow and reflective, underscoring the wistful melancholy that informs lyrics to numbers such as ‘Run These Lines’ with its sad mandola solo fade, the suppressed hurt of ‘Open Sky’ (“I was told once if you can’t say something good, don’t say anything, so I won’t write this song about you”) and ‘Waterfall’ (“all you want to be is on fire, and all you think you’ve gone is wrong”) a number that sees wife Grace joining on harmonies. As well as providing the album artwork and photography, she’s also the subject of its dedication and the song named after her, his voice soaring to a sweet falsetto as he sings with confessional intimacy “you make it all so beautiful, so hold me close…..I would gladly give this all away to stay by you”. A largely unknown secret   for far too long, it’s time to throw open the box and discover the treasure within.

Mike Davies

‘Rag & Bones’:

Celtic Connections reviews by Pauline Keightley

Fyfe Dangerfield ABC Glasgow Celtic Connections 20th January 2010… Dangerfield stormed the ABC Glasgow as part of the Celtic connections festival with his latest solo album ‘Yellow Moon’. He is a vibrant, energetic and expressive performer, who brought the audience with him with fun and interactive chat. This is an album of love songs, that covers all the high euphoria and depths of feeling that the first rush of love can bring. Fyfe plays guitar and also for several songs he had violin strings with him as he played piano. With Fyfe on piano he performed a tear jerker called ‘Barricades’ which moves the heart with stirring emotions. Other stand out songs were the light guitar song ‘Livewire’; the very quiet ‘Firebird’ that sings of ‘that bicycle made for two’; the comforting lyrics of ‘my memories ring like telephones’ in the sunshine feel of ‘She Needs Me’; and the instant feel of ‘Don’t Be shy’ with lyrics such as ‘Ask her to sing for you, adore you.’ For the rock song ‘Faster than the Setting Sun’ Fyfe used a foot pedal and managed a truly tight professional sound. He has a powerhouse vocal. There were shades of the Beatles and other musical influences here – and his music ranges from upbeat rock, poignant piano songs and rhythmic guitar tunes. With the audience on its feet by now for his encore he gave us the Guillemot’s ‘Made-up love Song #43’ – and we sang along. Well there is nothing made up about these new feel-good love songs! Fyfe is also a composer of choral music, and leader of the pop alternative and indie rock band the Guillemots, whose first album, Through the Windowpane, was nominated for the 2006 Mercury prize and for a Brit award. His new album was recorded straight in only 5 days, and the album has that raw live feel about it. Go out and listen to his music. I recommend it. An intoxicating performance.

Beth Nielsen Chapman Royal Concert Hall 25th January 2010… Beth Nielsen Chapman showed us why she has had many hit songs covered by well known American artists as she sang her sweet and moving love songs from her latest album, as well as some of her older hits. Her songs have strong melodies and insightful lyrics. Playing piano and with violin strings accompanying she takes the mood down on songs like ‘How We Love’ and ‘Peace’. On stage she has a warm and relaxed style. Stand out songs are the emotive Sand and Water, Peace, How We Love and Even As It All Goes By. She sang emotionally deep songs with piano and strings, which made me think of other well-known female writers such as Carole King and Sarah McLaughlan. Introducing several songs she talked about her writing collaborations with other respected songwriters. She also took the tempo of the concert up performing foot- tapping county guitar songs, with close harmonies. On her new songs she returns to her previous soul-filled style, and her voice sings with a subtle compassion. This concert was the first show of her tour to coincide with the release of her latest album, Back To Love, which was BBC Radio 2’s album of the week on January 18th 2010, and has an expected US release mid-year. Scottish musician Phil Cunningham joined her on stage for several songs. Her song “Even As It All Goes By” closed out 2009 as BBC Radio 2’s “Record of the Week” and was the only new single added to the “A List” of BBC Radio 2’s playlist at the top of 2010. She has had songs covered by Faith Hill, Bonnie Raitt, Willie Nelson, Trisha Yearwood, Neil Diamond, Patty Griffin and Emmylou Harris among others. She lives in Nashville. Charlie Dore was the support.

Angelique Kidjo Old Fruitmarket Glasgow 21 January 2010 … Angélique Kidjo had the Old Fruitmarket dancing on Friday night. Kidjo and her band brought rhythmic delights and the vibrancy of Africa’s sun- with songs such as ‘Hush Now Child,’ several rumba’s, and afropop dance tunes. She also sang the song La Petit Fleur with simply bass accompanying her heart-stirring voice. She is known for her wide-ranging musical influences – she mentioned James Brown, Steve Wonder, Santana and Otis Redding. Her musical influences include the Afropop, Caribbean, rumba, jazz, gospel and Latin. Kidjo is a grammy award winning Beninoise singer-songwriter. She studied at a Jazz school in Paris and she has recorded four albums for Island Records and in 2000 she was signed by Columbia Records. She has been a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador since 2002. She has also recorded songs for movies, Tv and documentaries. Later during the concert Kidjo danced through the packed audience, and it was surprising to note how tiny she was, as on stage she has a big presence. She then invited around15 audience members up to dance behind her on stage, and along to her drummer’s exciting dance beats. An exhilarating and upbeat gig.

Laura Veirs Oran Mor Glasgow Celtic Connections  17 January 2010… Laura was in a print dress and 6 months pregnant she enjoyed a few heckles. She is songstress from Portland Oregan. She sang her coloured lyrics that often draw their roots from the natural world, and sang with her clear vocals and unexpected rhythms on guitar, alongside strong vocal harmonies with the band. She sang songs from her new album ‘July Flame’ to an enthusiastic Scottish audience. A fun summer song inspired by a peach. She played a few requests and had the audience clapping and singing along for a couple of songs. Her backing band consisted of long time members Kate O’Brien-Clark on fiddle, Eric Anderson and Nelson Kempf (Old Believers) on guitar, vocals, balalaika, bass and drums. She is releasing her seventh album, July Flame, under her own label in January 2010. She tours frequently in Europe, North America and Australia.

The Future Trad Collective, Old Fruitmarket 21st January 2010… The Future Trad Collective is the latest band with flutist Michael McGoldrick, producer and guitarist Ian Fletcher and fiddler Andy Dinan. I was stuck with their energetic and accomplished playing, and by their dynamic, fresh and eclectic mix of sounds at this gig. They play several instruments – pipes, whistles, flute, fiddle and guitar – and performed Jigs and Reels, polkas and Breton gavottes fused with everything from AfroCuban Cross-Rhythms, Tabla-driven Funk, Flamenco, Samba, Afrobeat, HipHop to House, Reggae, Disco, Breakbeat and Jungle. Mike has been a member of the respected Scottish ceildih band Capercaillie for nine years. He has also played with many top musicians including Mark Knopfler, John Cale, and Youssou N’Dour. He won the BBC Musician of the Year Folk Award in 2006. Their guitarist Ian has produced film soundtracks ranging from Ambient to Breakbeat and has been collaborating with many different artists. Andy Dinan, is a master of the fiddle having won the all Ireland fiddle championships twice. He has played with Adrian Edmondson and Troy Donockley and the Punk Folk Group, the Bad Shepherds.

Kirsty McGee and the Hobopop Collective Classic Grande  January 16th 2010… Kirsty McGee performed at the Classic Grand as part of Glasgow’s Celtic Connections. She covered several genres including roots, Americana, jazz and blues. Kirsty has a soothing and engrossing vocal that resonates with depth and soul. The Hobopop Collective performed songs from their new ‘Live album No 5’ at the Classic Grand – and they were ably supported by accomplished and versatile singer songwriter John Smith (who has toured with legend John Martyn) and singer Ruth Rotman – for an evening of new folk traditions. The audience were seated on the floor surrounded by candles for thee intimate sets. Kirsty and Mat Martin, with whom she has performed as a duo for the past four years, have a flowing and engrossing vibe to their hopeful love songs. She has moving soul-filled vocals and Mat, with his string instruments, provides energy, colour and shade. They play a mix of laid back jazz-infused bluegrass acoustic tunes and Kirsty’s songs feel light and easy yet full of mystery and meaning. Her travelling songs take inspiration from a close affinity with nature. Stand out songs were the ‘Sandman’, a song backed by Matt’s fun upbeat banjo jazz rhythms; ‘The Last to Understand’ when Kirsty sings with her mellow, caressing voice; The sensitive love song ‘Bliss;’ ‘Stonefruit’ foot tapping jazz basslines from Nick Blacka alongside a strong vocal melody; ‘Dust Devil’ – a moody introspective love song which is soft and slow – yes a song about dust! No, more about how, when we love we have those special connections everywhere we look. Kirsty and her Hobopop Collective finished with ‘Faith’ – an optimistic song full of quiet hope and honest vocals.

The Low Anthem, the Old FruitMarket 28th January 2010… Haunting and even spiritual – they play their music with flexible bass and lots of space. Their lead singer has one of those perfect high tenor voices. They describe their music as Alternative or folk rock. The Low Anthem played their enriching Americana and minimalist rock to an appreciative audience at the Old Fruitmarket Glasgow. The band consists of Ben Knox Miller, a folk musician, Jeff Prystowsky, a jazz bassist and composer Jocie Adams. They played tracks from their third self-released album, 2008’s Oh My God, Charlie Darwin. This album was named Album of the Month by Uncut and was also nominated for the 2009 Uncut Music Award. For me the stand out songs were “Charlie Darwin” ” To Ohio” and “Yellowed by the Sun.” The band also picked the energy of the set up and performed some jazzier and rockier tunes.
They play around 30 instruments between them – including zither, pump organ, Tibetan singing bowl, trumpet, banjo and clarinet – and have influences such as Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Tom Waits. To give you an idea the Low Anthem is now travelling with – WWI portable pump organ, harmonium, AJ & HH 29″ thunder drum, nipple gong, 3 clarinets, a really big fiddle, E flat marching horn, sizzling set of crotales, electricity aided guitar, rusty saw, accordion, 2 fiddles…and enough harmonicas to summon a swarm of locusts – apparently! They met at Brown university and the band made me think of hippies and various influences from Connor Obrest, the Shins to the Eagles. I enjoyed the ethereal and atmospheric nature of their live performance – low key yet also uplifting. There was very much a student/indie music crowd at this gig. It was worth seeing them live, and I recommend checking them out. They were ably supported by Fraser Anderson a singer-songwriter from Edinburgh who is now living in France, and is due to release his third album, 151, in January 2010.

Danny Thompson and Friends Old Fruitmarket 30th January 2010…  Renowned bass player Thompson introduced an all-star line up that included – Darrell Scott, Luka Bloom, Donald Shaw, Michael McGoldrick, Eddi Reader, Martin Simpson, Mollie O’Brien, and Tim O’Brien. They each recalled memories of Martyn and included several of Martyn’s best loved songs, finishing with his best known , May You Never. This concert was part of the Celtic Connections festival and a tribute to John Martyn who died in January 2009. Thompson came out firstly for a short bass solo centre stage. He is known best as a double bassist, who over his long career has played with among others, respected folk/rock musicians Richard Thompson and John Martyn. Thompson has played with nearly every major artist all over the world, over his fifty five year career. He received a Lifetime achievement award in the 2007 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. One aspect that I enjoy at the Celtic festival is the artists collaborating, and its clear how much fun they were all having working with each other on stage at this gig. Many of the artists at this gig and others, talked about their writing with other artists, and being inspired by them. In this world it is the norm to co-write or cover others songs. This was a quality and stately gig – and uplifting and heartfelt by the performers. Some of Martyn’s songs performed were – Over The Hill, Love Me With Your Head And Heart, May You Never, and The Jelly Roll Blues. Plus other songs that seemed to be chosen to fit with a general theme of optimism in the human spirit. Mollie O’Brien from Tennessee, Tim O’Brien sister, had a very strong jazz-filled voice.

(postscript) Thompson’s initial experience of bass playing was with a skiffle group, with whom he played a tea chest bass (a bass he built himself out of a tea chest, which folded up so he could carry it). In the early 1960s he bought a second-hand double bass from an old man in Battersea who let him have the instrument for £5 (despite the fact that it was worth much more than that), on the basis of his keenness to play it. He christened the instrument “Victoria” and it has remained his instrument of choice ever since. The bass was built by Gand, a French luthier in 1865.