Rich. That is the word I would use to describe Brooke Fraser’s new album, “Flags.” The songwriter, and member of mega-worship-band Hillsong United, has greatly impressed with her latest effort. She has an uncanny way of creating such atmosphere with her music. It’s as if each song sits in its own little world, complete with a complex economy and society. Ms. Brooke makes me proud to be a female music lover, as I feel she is leaps and bounds more talented than most of her peers.
The record begins with a bright and sunny tune called “Something in the Water.” There isn’t one song like it on her previous record, “Albertine,” so it’s quite refreshing. The next track, “Betty,” was co-written by Jon Foreman (of Switchfoot). One who is familiar with Jon’s solo work can feel his influence in the song: the subject is a broken, closed-off girl looking for freedom and the arrangement features some quirky trumpets. “Orphans, Kingdoms” is a stand-out on the album for me, boasting a lush sound and driving percussion. “Who Are We Fooling” was co-written and composed by Aqualung (Matt Hales). It’s a sweet and tender love ballad; Brooke and Matt’s vocals compliment each other very well. “Ice on Her Lashes” starts with a prominent bass line and faint guitar, slowly growing into a soft song featuring Brooke’s amazingly poetic lyrics, capable of painting a beautiful and interesting story. The next track, “Coachella,” picks things up a bit. The song refers to the yearly music festival held in California. The lyrics are at times amusing taken within context of the audience she is singing to: “I am bright as the sun; you are high as a kite… And I love you, though I’ve never met you before.” Things stay perky with “Jack Kerouac,” feeling very similar to a Jack Johnson song. “Sailboats” is an acoustic-lead tune which creates a scene where one can almost feel as if they’re sailing on the sea. Perhaps the most powerful song on the album is “Crows & Locusts.” Brooke pulls out all the stops here to tell the haunting story of a girl who lives in a war-torn country. The singer’s voice can be heard failing at the end of the song as the emotion palpably overwhelms her. “Here’s to You” puts things in a better mood with a piano-driven, thoughtful tune about leaving a legacy behind. The album closer, “Flags,” is a comforting, encouraging song about how the poor and broken will rise again. I purchased the album from Amazon and received an exclusive, acoustic version of this song and I have to say that it’s near perfection.
Brooke Fraser is a breath of fresh air to those looking for thought-out, creative, and atmospheric music. Obviously, it’s not just about playing music for Brooke; it’s about creating a story within the song. She achieves that wonderfully with “Flags” and any music fan would be blessed to hear it.