Magpie





As the east coast continues to dig out from the Blizzard of 2006, the white landscape has changed to a mushy brown slush. The pure white snow transformed NYC to a winter wonderland, covering up the dirty sidewalks and trash with a temporary white blanket of powder. While the snow was falling, I found that it was the perfect time to stay inside with a bottle of whiskey and check out some new music. Stephen Fretwell's debut full-length, Magpie, was the one new record that seemed to perfectly fit the mood of a blizzard. Dark, direct and sometimes painfully personal, this album provided me with the perfect soundtrack as I watched the swirling flakes cause life to temporarily grind to a halt. His sophisticated songwriting and elegant acoustic melodies struck a chord with me, performing emotional songs that go straight for the heart. For a musician that is only twenty-three years of age, Stephen Fretwell's music sounds as if it was written by a rock veteran. Although born in the British town of Scunthorpe, he made his way to Manchester, where his interest in making music became his full-time obsession. Fretwell's songs are musically simple and stripped down, allowing his lyrics of heartbreak, regret, and occasional happiness to remain the focus of the album. "Run" is one of the few songs on the album that features a rhythm section, with piano and brush-played drums that would have fit just as well on a Ryan Adams album. Most of the finest moments on the album are when it is just Fretwell and his guitar, such as on "Emily", containing an unexpected pop hook that would make Coldplay deeply envious. One of the finest examples of Fretwell's genius is the lyrically honest "New York", sounding as if it was written by a man with a lifetime of experience rather than a young lad still finding his way. Magpie, which was recorded at the legendary Abbey Road studios by Guy Massey, will get its overdue release in the US next week. Fretwell tosses in bits of I Am Kloot, Dylan, Ryan Adams and Jeff Buckley, resulting in a batch of songs that are deeply powerful and simply beautiful. Do yourself a favor and spend a quiet evening with this outstanding release.

Stephen Fretwell
Fiction/Interscope

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Magpie