Man On The Roof
Stephen Fretwell's gold-selling debut, Magpie, still stands as the 21st century's best singer-songriter disc from these shores... Well, maybe until now. Man On The Roof is devastatingly great, showing the kind of maturity that listeners of Magpie wouldn't have dared dream was possible on top of that disc's all-round excellence. With his voice drifting closer to Chris Martin than the Yorkshire Manc of before, and a comfortable (comfortably outstanding) band behind, the songs, perhaps showing the benefit of a longer-than-expected gestation, live in their perfect manifestation - they don't need covering by anyone else to see their best. With an ease that Oasis, Stereophonics and Coldplay would love in their quieter, acoustic, songs, Fretwell gives the lie to the idea that, after a while, all singer-songwriters sound the same.
The lyrics are real, warmly humorous and rich in observation. A song like The Ground Beneath Your Feet would have fitted, and shone, on Blonde on Blonde. Yet it's on the songs like William Shatner's Dog, the Waits'y opener Coney or the Nick Cave-like Saturday that Fretwell hints at his extra range - there isn't a weak moment anywhere. This disc single-handedly stops you caring about the Blunt mediocrity elsewhere. Essential purchase.