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Stephen Fretwell - Man On The Roof

Stephen Fretwell, Man On The Roof

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

HAVING captivated many with his 2004 debut album Magpie, Stephen Fretwell now repeats the trick with new album Man On The Roof.

Recorded in New York, the album follows the same kind of format as its predecessor – but employs a more layered structure and an even wider scope.

Several songs give way into epic instrumentation, often compensating for some of the more melancholy lyrics and elevating Fretwell to the songwriting status of Chris Martin, Damien Rice and even Leonard Cohen.

The highlights find Fretwell at his most ambitious. Opening song Coney slowly comes to life with the help of a lazy piano chord and some warped vocals that could well draw comparisons with Badly Drawn Boy in his prime.

She is delivered with considerable aplomb, dropping Lennon-esque vocal melodies, pensive lyrics and a quietly intoxicating piece of piano.

Dead and Scar are folksy treats that raise the tempo slightly and appear almost upbeat in composition, and Now slow builds from a simple piano opening to the type of euphoric treat that Coldplay might be proud of (especially when Fretwell adopts a falsetto vocal style).

Sleep, on the other hand, features a beguiling lead vocal and some sterling guitar work especially during the late solo, coming in nice contrast to the stripped back, aching romanticism of The Ground Beneath Your Feet.

San Francisco Blues, meanwhile, is just a really terrific listen with some fine guitar chords, and final track William Shatner’s Dog brings things to a close in suitably satisfying fashion (without so much as mentioning any Star Trek characters).

At a time when solo singer-songwriters seem to be more prolific than ever, Fretwell has established himself as one of the best of a very talented bunch. Man On The Roof – like its name suggests – sets a new high standard for the Scunthorpe native.

Download picks: Coney, She, Dead, Scar, Now, Sleep, The Ground Beneath Your Feet, San Francisco Blues

Track listing:

  1. Coney
  2. Darlin’ Don’t
  3. She
  4. Dead
  5. Funny Hat
  6. Bumper Cars
  7. Scar
  8. The Scheme
  9. Now
  10. Sleep
  11. The Ground Beneath Your Feet
  12. Saturday
  13. San Francisco Blues
  14. William Shatner’s Dog

  1. Why has he left out (can this be) from the album lets hear that one with the band in Glasgow on the 22nd, its only one thing i dont understand about the guy. Seen him twice now and he still aint played it live. The new album is TOP!!!! love darlin dont!!

    paul mclaughlin    Sep 13    #
  2. Some people like to keep tracks to themselves, or keep them hidden. Makes it more interesting for the listener!!

    Dan    Sep 20    #