I love EPs. In the neoteric digital age, music and artist are often condensed into a YouTube hit leaving you wanting much more or are immediately stretched to a full album which can, in some instances, hinder the ability to make a connection to someone new and fully understand the drive and character behind their music. Unfamiliar albums can be overwhelming, even if each track hits the sweet spot. The EP format then, as in the case of the debut release from Bex And Freda, is an impeccable balance, just the correct proportion of song, style and flavour to engage whilst leaving the taste buds craving a little more.
Bex is the driving force of the “duo” as singer, song writer, pianist and strummer of Freda, for Freda is in fact her Kauai concert ukulele. I find this rather charming, a one woman band in the truest sense of the phrase and I find myself pondering the fame of any other instruments who’ve had top billing since Echo And The Bunnymen. Indeed according to Bex And Freda’s biography, Freda has been replaced by Berti and Georgie and it is rather sweet that the name remains. An actual human being called Jim does help out on percussion but I’m sure he understands the sentimentality of sticking to the original name. As do Berti and Georgie.
“From Where I Stand” kicks off with a straight, uptempo almost punk-pop acoustic ukulele track called I’d Rather Be With You. Backed with a subtle layer of percussion it all bounces along rather nicely and serves well as a suitable introduction. Postcard follows in a similar style with the sounds of the coast wafting us into the ambience perhaps this time leaning more to pop than punk.
We’re then taken sideways into Bex’s multi-instrumental talents with a beautifully written piano based tune with a clarinet backing no less. This track, titled Cider Song, is an extremely well crafted affair with bags of animated energy and a luscious lull. And I like this a lot, a sudden skip into a very different style showing a breadth of both performing and writing flair.
The ukulele returns in a more sombre strum with the title track, From Where I Stand, this time pulling in the piano as backing and track five, Poison Arrow, takes us firmly into traditional folk territory with a lusciously picked uke pattern. Finally, Alive has a ghostly feel with a reverberating piano and an ominous bass drum thud, this a more epic track speeding up midway with a feisty ukulele strum, clarinet riff and vocal harmonies bringing the timbres of the whole EP neatly together to finish on a good old fashioned fade.
All things considered this is an absorbing, stimulating and tastefully written debut release with just the perfect level of diversity to peak one’s interest thereby strengthening the legacy of, and indeed my love of, the EP format. More! More!
Pop on over to the website or check out social media bric-a-brac via Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to find everything you need to know about Bex And Freda or indeed head over to Bandcamp to indulge yourself in this wonderful EP.