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.