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Brooke Fraser – Flags

Catherine May


There’s something in the water that made me know I’d like Brooke Fraser’s new album. It just so happens that Something In The Water is also the opening track on her latest album and I was quick to realise that my assumptions had been correct. As an Australasian (27 year old Fraser grew up in Wellington, NZ) you’d have been mistaken for thinking I’d have been all over her music many years ago but alas I’ve disappointed myself and only begin my journey of discovery with Flags, Fraser’s third studio album.

Whilst the opener is full of folky optimism, Betty sees a deeper side to Fraser’s vocals that is, perhaps, more damning with the lyrics. There’s a change of sound again in Orphans, Kingdoms as her sweet voice takes a softer tone that sounds a bit like Imogen Heap if she was sharing a microphone with Laura Marling. That’s a complement by the way.

After a lengthy instrumental introduction, Ice On Her Lashes finds its way to become a haunting track with incredibly descriptive lyrics. This soft sound isn’t revived again until Sailboats and the subsequent Crows + Locusts which both see Frasers vocals flourish with simple instrumental accompaniments. The former captures the nautical atmosphere perfectly, whilst the latter has more of a power behind it and a real emotional rawness.

Now I’ve always wanted to go to Coachella. That, SXSW and seeing Missy Higgins live remain my top musical priorities in life. And having listened to Fraser’s poetic Coachella my desire to go has only been heightened. Describing the familial atmosphere with more metaphors than you can count on your hands, she emotes what the festival clearly means to her. Following Coachella comes another proper noun as a song title with Jack Kerouac seeing Fraser explore a “humourless” situation before continuing to sing “Jack Jack Kerouac” in her defined acoustic folk fashion.

The majority of Fraser’s music makes me want to tap my feet in enthusiasm. Of course, not every track does – Ice On Her Lashes had me frozen in my tracks – but once she injects her folk vibe into a song her talent becomes undeniably apparent. When you throw in her penchant for metaphor I found Fraser’s overall songwriting ability to be particularly strong and Flags only served to prove that I really should’ve dipped my toe in the water a lot earlier. Brooke Fraser deserved my attention long long ago.