Who: Brooke Fraser
Where: New Zealand
For fans of: Sarah MacLachlan, Sara Bareilles, Kate Voegele, John Mayer, and Jason Mraz
Why you need to listen: The indie sensation from New Zealand has made waves in Europe, in Australia, and in her native homeland, where she is only one of two acts to have ever notched 2 consecutive no. 1 albums there. Now she has been met with instant success in North America, where it sits at no. 90 on the US’s Billboard Albums 200 and has top billing in Canada. She is currently wrapping up a North American tour that will take her through the early part of August.
While indie sensation Brooke Fraser may be known for her contributions to the Christian worship group Hillsong and Hillsong United, she may eclipse that with her solo work, which started in 2006 (2004 in Australia and New Zealand) with her solo debut, ‘What To Do With Daylight’ and expands on her peaceful and serene folksy sound in her breakout sophomore effort, ‘Albertine.’ The album itself has a great backstory as the Marshall Altman (Curtis Peoples, Kate Voegele, Sarah VonderHaar)-produced album is named after a Rwandan girl Brooke met on her way for a charity mission trip to Tanzania after hearing the girl’s story of how she was rescued by an orphanage.
The album itself isn’t earth-shattering but in the acoustic pop/rock genre, it’s all about the lyrics and the voice and it’s something Brooke possesses. Her slightly husky and wispy vocal delivery accents songs like the title track and in the opening track ‘Shadowfeet’. The overall lyrical arrangement is very poetic in nature and the the varied instrumentation, ranging from drum taps and the piano to minimalistic beats or the simple voice and acoustic guitar allows the lyrics to be sort of wrapped around like a blanket. A must-listen track has to be ‘C.S. Lewis Song’ for if not the deep and lush lyrics, it’s the varied lushness of the instrumentation that will get you definitely near the end of the song. Another track to note is the aforementioned ‘Albertine,’ with the highly charged lyrics and serious meaning with the current state of affairs in Rwanda. Lyrics like this will definitely getting you moving, “I am sitting still I think of Angelique her mother’s voice over me And the bullets in the wall where it fell silent And on a thousandth hill, I think of Albertine there in her eyes what I don’t see with my own Rwanda.”
Another song of note is the subtle meaning of ‘Hosea’s Wife’, which touches upon Brooke’s deep Christian roots. The lyrics again are the highlight in the song and has a very deep message. The song reestablishes the album itself as the second half of the album shows Brooke perhaps running out of steam.
‘Albertine’ has already met massive success on the other side of the world and with it’s Top 100 ranking on the US album charts, it appears that Brooke Fraser is getting some success in the notoriously fickle and tough US market as well. She should fit in quite nicely with fellow female singer-songwriters Sara Bareilles, Kate Voegele, and Anna Nalick.
Label: Wood & Bone
Release date: May 27, 2008 (US release)
Rating: 4.6 out of 5