Homespun, hand crafted, harmony-laden…
Sent sailing down The River Cam by Cracking Tunes on 27 May 2016 and reviewed by David ‘Can I Put This On Midlands Rocks’ Waterfield
The departure of lead guitarist and founder member Lachlan Golder mid-album and mid-tour last year could easily have derailed Cambridge folk/rock band Fred’s House. However, rather than imploding, the band recruited keyboard player Alister Bunclark and forged ahead with their sophomore album Faultlines, a fine collection that is arguably even stronger than their debut. The addition of Bunclark has introduced a whole new set of colours to the Fred’s House paint box and this is immediately apparent on the opening track ‘Bluebird’, where shimmering keyboards lend the song a mellow West Coast vibe. The production here is bright and crisp and this is a feature that runs throughout Faultlines.
The two singles ‘Shut Up And Dance’ and ‘Ghost Town’ are present and correct and they are both vibrant, commercial folk/pop with memorable hook lines, but there are other gems on Faultlines waiting to be discovered. ‘California For A Girl’ is a lovely song that touches on Golder’s departure from the band to stay with his girlfriend in America. It features an affecting lead vocal from Vikki Gavin that conveys a sense of sadness at their friend’s departure whilst celebrating the love that led him there. I was also very pleased to hear a reworked version of ‘Face in the Water’ on this album as it has long been one of my favourite tracks by the band.
Album closer ‘Another Universe’ is another highlight, a beautifully arranged song that builds from piano and 12 string guitar but perhaps the standout track on Faultlines is ‘Earthquake’: a delicate piano led ballad with a tasteful string arrangement and a gorgeous, crystalline lead vocal from Vikki Gavin. It would take a hard heart to resist such a beautiful song and I can’t help thinking that its radio friendly chorus could win Fred’s House admirers beyond their existing fan base.
There’s a seventies retro feel that pervades much of this album – right down to the fetching album cover – and the homespun, hand crafted, harmony-laden approach of Fred’s House is difficult not to warm to. Faultlines isn’t a perfect album but it marks a progression from its predecessor; sonically richer and more diverse and showcasing Griff Jameson and Vikki Gavin’s increasing maturity as songwriters. As the next step on the journey for the likeable band from Cambridge this will do just fine.
8.5 out of 10
- Shut Up And Dance
- She Says
- Goodbye Sweet City
- California For A Girl
- Ghost Town
- Face In The Water
- We Don’t Talk Anymore
- Another Universe