CARELESS - FRED’S HOUSE
LCM ALBUM OF THE MONTH - OCTOBER 2018
Artist: Fred’s House
Release Date: 26th October, 2018
Genre: Americana, Folk, Folk Rock
Record Label: Cracking Tunes
Review By: Gary Smith (LCM)
The end of a close relationship is always a very difficult time especially when it happens between two key members of a band. The multi-award winning Fred’s House’s third studio album ‘Careless’ will undoubtedly draw comparisons to another very famous album made at a time of internal tension, crisis and heartbreak, Fleetwood Mac’s 1977 album ‘Rumours’ .
US west coast folk-rolk, excellent songwriting and harmonies with a UK twist permeates this excellent album. It was recorded at Half Ton Studio and produced by Neil ‘Bugs’ Rogers and the band. The band are joined on the recording by Hannah Elizabeth (Voilin) and Kaity Rae (Cello) and Jonathan Ackaart (Trombone).
‘Careless’ is an honest and ‘heart on the sleeve’ album full of reflective and crafted songs. It has all the high quality hallmarks of previous albums, but this time it’s more bittersweet in its feel and subject matter. Fred’s House have been on an interesting journey since they first stated in Cambridge over eight years ago. Their last album in part explored losing a key band member Lachlan, who subsequently rejoined the band after his stay in California.
The album opens on an very upbeat note with a new rocking and mega catchy version of one of the bands earlier songs ‘This Little Boy’, written by Griff and first released on their 2012 ‘Looking Glass’ EP. It’s a classic Fred’s House track and always a popular crowd favourite. Still upbeat the mood changes slightly for ‘Never Gonna Love You’ written by Griff and Vix. It’s a reflective and very pertinent song of lost love and it’s aftermath. After exploring their previous close relationship and reliance on each other, it ends with the cutting and bittersweet “Baby you know this ain’t real. I can’t feel what I just don’t feel. Give your love to someone new, it doesn’t matter what you do”. This is explored further in ‘Careless’ which was written by Griff and sees him take the lead vocal for the first time on the album. ‘You used to be so familiar to me and somehow always still brand new. How can I even look you in the eye anymore? When we both know you were careless.’. One of my friends once said very profoundly that the end of a close relationship is like a bereavement. The death of a future life that you would have shared together. ‘Careless’ deals with the fresh wounds felt at the end of a very close relationship, the stages of grief and the start of the healing process.
The rebuilding process continues in ‘Keep It To Myself’ written by Griff & Alan Clarke. A similar sentiment to The Script’s song ‘Breakeven’ “'Cause when a heart breaks no it don't break even. Her best days will be some of my worst. She finally met a man that's gonna put her first. While I'm wide awake she's no trouble sleeping……What am I supposed to do when the best part of me was always you”. With strong Fleetwood vibes the beautiful ‘Forget About It’ explores life in the band after the initial break up. Staying open when all you want to do is close up. “It’s hard to keep talking, when all you want to do is cry. And it’s hard to keep going over those reasons why’. One of my favourite song on the album and probably the most telling is the wonderful ‘Can We Just Pretend?’ Putting a brave public face on things and trying to move on is the central theme. “Darling can you understand I’ll keep on as long as I can. It’s hard for me. But you keep your head in the sand, so I will let go of your hand……eventually.” Watch out for the great guitar solo by Lachlan.
Returning to the lead vocal Vix shines on the album’s first single, the jazzy ‘I’m Not Saying’. I really like the bass line and the guitar break on this one and I’m sure in will be another crowd favourite. ‘Just because I want to hide doesn’t mean it’s suicide for me and you…you don’t have to worry because I’m fine’, Next up is uptempo reggae infused ‘Bad Place’. “I’ve conquered all my demons in some causal way. But I won’t ever look them all away…..‘I’m not longer in a bad place’. Another beautiful track is the Beatleque ‘I Can’t Call You Mine’, with it’s subtle but wonderful underlying string arrangement (Hannah Elizabeth (violin) and Kaity Rae (cello)) plus the Fred’s House trademark harmonies. You can’t help feeling that there is a lot of metaphors in ‘Charity Shop Song’ written by Griif & Vix. I’ll leave it up to you to decide what the song is about.
The album concludes with another bittersweet song ‘Sooner Or Later’. Saying in so many words “If it does’t work out. Don’t come crawling back after sympathy……I don’t want to know!”
Although created in a time of hurt, pain and sometimes bad feeling, this is the bands best album to date. It’s reflective, very honest, sometimes raw emotionally and very much ‘heart on the sleeve’. The band have always been fantastic live performers, excellent songwriters and musicians. ‘Careless’ showcases their many combined talents. I really hope that the album gets the recognition that it deserves and brings the band to a wider mainstream audience.
Breaking news: It was announced a very short time ago (11th November, 2018) during the writing of this review that Griff will be leaving Fred’s House to concentrate on his new duo partnership with Hannah. We wish him all the very best for the future and hope that Fred’s House will continue in a new form. Griff will remain with the band during their current ‘Careless’ tour dates.