Review by Adrian Erdedi and images by Nirrimi Hakanson
Today my family and I will be laying my Grandfather to rest. A tough time for all of us and a time that not much can make better. But to me, a death is a time of rejoicing someone’s life; celebrating their achievements and the love they have brought to your lives.
A strange way to open a music review I know, but the one album I have been listening to non-stop for the past week is by one of my top 5 favorite artists of all time – Brooke Fraser. Brooke has just released her third highly anticipated album called Flags.
Flags makes me happy.
It’s an album of positivity, good feeling, rejoice and survival. I’m smiling. All the tracks on Flags are sung by Brooke, but don’t come from Brooke. She has written them, from the stories of others. From their experiences, their love, their loss. They still come from her heart. Simply sensational.
New Zealand born Brooke is a gorgeous tall, dark haired girl. From a religious family, her music is deep and touching. In 2003 What To Do With Daylight was her first album – great songs that you can sing to over and over again, in a way that Brooke Fraser makes her own. Her second album came in 2005, Albertine. This one of the most inspiring creations I’ve ever heard in my life. Brooke tells the story of her travels to Rwanda, the people she meets, the people who touched her life and the sadness and trauma that these people go through everyday – one of these people being Albertine. If there is ever an album I highly recommend you listen to, it will be Albertine. You are guaranteed to be emotional.
Starting off the album is the wonderful cloud clearing and joyous track, Something In The Water, which has just been used to promote channel 7‘s Home & Away. You’ll start bopping away to the catchy melody; I guarantee you’ll have this track on repeat. “There’s something in the water that makes me love you like I do” is the main line in the chorus; I would assume it’s about her marriage to her husband between albums.
The next song on the album, which I absolutely love, is Betty. A song about an unapproachable, but cool girl, who hides her Canadian-shaped birthmark. Yes, a metaphor for all the other things she is afraid to show people – herself. Again, another song, which is lively, and oozes with Brooke Fraser’s style – a pop-alternative approach with big band style.
A Brooke Fraser album wouldn’t be a Brooke Fraser album unless there was a beautiful ballad, which she is so magical at. For Who Are We Fooling she is completely flawless. This is a powerful duet with the awesome Matt Hales from Aqualung. Absolutely heart stopping.
Ice On Her Lashes – a track about the cycle of grief. A cycle for the first time in my life have experienced.
“There’s that moment when you get a phone call and find out that something life-shattering has happened and you look around and wonder how other people are still going about their daily lives, sitting in traffic or buying milk, when yours has just been changed forever,” Brooke says.
“The song is about how most of us will at some point be somewhere in that cycle. Life goes on and the pain doesn’t go away, but it becomes livable.”
I understand exactly what she is singing – I’m glad what I feel is normal. It’s human.
From a deeply emotive track, to Coachella. Bright, uplifting and a song, which you feel the smile, happiness and glee sung straight from Brooke’s mouth. The feeling this song gives you is so pleasing. You feel like just being around your best mates, having a BBQ or lunch at the beach, just appreciating life and what you have. The song reminds me of Sandi Thom‘s song, I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker.
“Jack Jack Kerouac, Jack Jack Kerouac” Brooke sings in a real slap-stick folk style. But who is Jack Kerouac? Jack Kerouac is a French-Canadian novelist, poet and artist. The song is called… You guessed it! Jack Kerouac. If this song were a car, it would be an old daggy rusted blue early 80’s Cadillac convertible, with 4 best friends on a roadtrip through the desert in the US somewhere…
Sailboats and Crows & Locusts are two more stunning ballads, with strong emotionally resonant vocals and stunning instrumental. Just two more examples to prove that Brooke is a pure genius.
Crows & Locusts, a story of a farming family helplessly witnessing the decimation of their crops through various forms of pestilence, told through the eyes of the young daughter.
To finish off this album of survival, healing, loving and renewal, Flags kindly polishes the Brooke Fraser experience. A few moments to reflect and appreciate. Not just everything you have, but appreciate the phenomenal and consistently divine voice of a true musician. This is what making music from soul, heart and experience is all about.
I give this album a 9.5 out of 10. Amazing.
Brooke Fraser’s music has an ability to clear and cleanse. I’m not a spiritual or religious person, but the power of music is extraordinary.
If you have never heard her, please just have a quick listen to her – www.BrookeFraser.com
I write this review in loving memory of my Grandfather.