The ‘concept’ album is alive and well on this gentle collection; endorsed by Mike Scott
Born in Harrogate, Freddie Stevenson is described in the blurb as a British/American songwriter and guitarist. Waterboys singer, Mike Scott, is a fan of Mr Stevenson:
“Freddie is one of my favourite contemporary songwriters and singers, and this album is his finest work, a thing of rare beauty…”
The roots of this offering go back to 2013 when Stevenson was opening for the Waterboys after a breakup. “That spring,” says Freddie, “I saw a picture of a girl sitting in a hollow tree, her gold hair bathed in light. This became the beginning of The Brightening.” Thus Stevenson crafted short sketches of songs into a cycle called ‘The Brightening,’ which flowed like a stream of consciousness, or ‘streaming’ as he refers to it.
Mike Scott was enthusiastic when he heard the results but felt it was too short. Why not add a cycle called ‘The Darkening?’ Voila! Beginning with The Darkening, Freddie demonstrates a gentle vocal style, the music is languid sounding and at times quite attractive. All I’ve Got Left Is The Moon, is a good example with its gentle melancholy. ‘Why does love’s lullaby fade away so soon?/ When she said goodbye she took the sun from the moon/ Now all I’ve got left is the moon.’ Gentle picking is backed by what sounds like a harpsichord. Until The Devil Gets Paid is a haunting little piece which stands out.
The second half of the cycle begins with The First Day Of Spring; presumably a metaphor for renewal, or recovery. These are all lovely ‘snippets’ like Thus Wept The Angel, Loretta and especially Hawthorne Tree, the original kick-starter for the project.
Ultimately, the whole proves greater than the sum of its parts. John Brindle