Jay Fraser
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Jay Fraser

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"CD Review: Jay Fraser – Sketches of a Renegade (2011)"

Jay Fraser’s EP serves up four stripped-down fire-and-brimstone folk numbers. ‘Devil’s Play’ uses a bluesy riff to drive the verses toward their feistier choruses, suggesting these tracks would benefit from a full band arrangement. ‘The Dark Wood’ adds a little electric fuzz to the mix for menace, but once again, the prickly rage beneath these songs could use a full-blown ballsy blues band. I won’t labour the point. I know it’s hard to find good staff these days, especially since Clapton ate all the blues guitarists in 2008. Jay’s voice is confident, though is always too controlled to let rip with gutsy blues abandon. ‘The Taunting Of Del Toro’ is good campfire music, gentler fare to smooch too at the back if you can convince someone to do that in public. (If you can, I’d like to hear from you. Leave phone numbers). ‘Breaking The Reigns’ demonstrates some good fret-friggin’ blues guitar work (more dextrousness on a full-length would be welcome) but I fear Jay’s EP has a demo-like quality, as though these songs are mere ‘sketches’ of some greater product to come. Maybe that was the point. If so, I apologise, Jay. And ask, humbly, why bother releasing this EP?

Rating: 6/10 - Shout4Music


"CD Review: Jay Fraser – ‘Buildings Of Dreams’ (2011)"

Formed out of the tales of his journey from Launceston to London, singer-songwriter Jay Fraser’s third studio album is one big adventure displaying the trials and tribulations of leaving a life 17,000 Kilometres away because of a thirst for something more. Opener ‘The Price On My Head’ immediately displays Jay’s impressive guitar skills, as the up-tempo, jaunty nature of the song gives a clear country vibe. ‘That’s How We Role’ features handclaps giving a much more pop-influenced feel to the song whilst ‘Walking A Fine Line’ transports you to the American South with its cool swagger, highlighted even more so with the addition of a harmonica. In contrast, ‘Four Strong Winds’ and ‘Wind In My Lungs’ are both very slow, laid-back numbers, with the former featuring some stunning harmonies and the latter making way for Jay’s sweet and wistful lyrics. Final track ‘Acland Street’ is a soft and simple ending to the album, as the acoustic track really allows the charming nature in Fraser’s vocals to shine through. All in all, ‘Building Of Dreams’ is a beautiful and somewhat captivating album, which really bursts with energy, exhibiting great talent on Jay’s part.

Rating: 8/10 - Shout4Music


"CD Review: Jay Fraser – Buildings of Dreams (2011)"

Jay Fraser is a solo roots artist originally from Tasmania and currently based in London. This is his third album and it documents his journey from his home in Australia to the other side of the world. The album has the feeling of a travel diary with different geographical vibes and atmospheric soundscapes explored across the album.
Jay Fraser puts out a vibrant country / roots sound sounding somewhere between John Butler and Angus Stone. Over the tracks Jay manages to create a sound that can be energetic and catchy while having a laid back and relaxed vibe at the same time. With some very minimalist musical arrangements he is able to produce a big sound with a lot of activity and life. Above all Mr Fraser has put out a country sound that has an unmistakable Australian vibe, and in some cases making you feel as if you are taking a journey around Australia. This gives the music a rather authentic feel.
The album opens with The Price on my head, an energetic country/roots tune that has a strong atmospheric vibe. The song races around making it feel as if you are traveling around at a great speed. That’s how we roll has a more poppy feel to it armed with some catchy riffs and some nice hand clapping to keep the energy up.
Walking on a fine line is a major stand out track, full of raw energy and life. There is a strong atmospheric vibe making you feel like you are out on a dusty road in the middle of the outback. The vibe of the song is further enhanced by the country style harmonica that hits all the right notes.
Four strong winds is a slow and melancholy tune that is very stripped back. There is a strong country vibe making you feel like you are out in a small and isolated country town. The simple guitars allow Jay’s vocals to be fully realised as he softly delivers the lines with a heap of passion, emotion and colour. The slow but twangy harmonics in place of a chorus adds to the vibe.
The album closes with the laid back roots Acland Street. Unlike the previous songs which have a strong country / outback vibe this one takes on more of an urban inner city feel. The lyrics backed by the simple guitar paint a vibrant picture of inner-city Melbourne.
This is a great collection of tunes. Each of the 10 tracks stand up on their own as solid tunes and pieced together create great imagery almost like a traveling journal across the world. Using rather minimal musical arrangements Mr Fraser is able to put out a lot of colour and vibes in each track topped with some sharp lyrics and soulful delivery.

Rating 4/5 - Tomatrax


"MUSIC SPOTLIGHT by Saeed Saeed (2010)"

Music in a Quiet Place
by Various Artists
4/5 Stars

IF ANYONE needs
further proof that
Melbourne is the home
to some of the nation's
best tunesmiths, then
go no further than this
delightful collection of
gems from local
songwriters.
This compilation
highlights all the
artists who graced the
City Library stage last year
as part of the Melbourne
City Council's Acoustica
series. While the songs here
are studio recordings, they
capture the rich and sultry
acoustic tones which made
the live performance series
a hidden treasure.
Amy Vee showcases her
crystalline vocals on the
shuffling Enough for Now
and T.K. Bollinger's Lovely
Sad and Lonely Day is a
whimsical slice of Dixieland
country.
Zerafina Zara's Waiting for
the Rain is a slow burner in
the style of Tracy Chapman,
while Indie outfit The Actor
Buddhists liven things up
with the sonically
adventurous The Matador.
Other highlights include
Jay Fraser's touching Three
Days, which basically rests
on a simple guitar
arrangement and his
gorgeously warm voice.
Adam Pavitt's raggedy No
Arms also deserves a
mention with its driving
tempo and quirky lyrics.
With 17 talented artists to
pick from, you will have a
tough time predicting
which one will deservedly
break out into the
mainstream. - Melbourne Leader


"Jay Fraser - 3 Days, 7 Lovers & The Philistine (2008)"

I’ll be honest with you, when I first listened to this 7-track EP I hated it. Every fibre of my being was irritated by every aspect of what I was listening too. I was also fully prepared to come home and channel all that hate and rage into a review. I went to bed instead. This left me with a problem when I initially came to write the review – I knew I hated something about this EP, but what exactly was it? I retraced my steps from the previous day; from the moment I put the CD in my primitive listening device (yes, I am one of the few people left who still do not own any sort of MP3 type gadgetry - I’m cheap) to the moment the last chord rang out. This made me realise that I couldn’t recall a single, valid reason to hate this EP. In fact, the hate and anger that burned inside me the previous day had little to do with Jay Fraser’s music and much to do with lugging a very heavy bag a few kilometres around inner city Brisbane in cold, drizzling rain and getting stuck behind pavement hogging slow walkers.

So I embarked on Listening Attempt Two (thankfully free of slow walkers).It also saw an exponential increase in the ratio of dressing gown to regular clothes wearing with the added bonus of an empty house. In other words, I had nothing to be angry about (but really, how can one be angry when wearing a dressing gown?). Attempt two was a success and I walked away very impressed with Jay Fraser and his EP.

3 days, 7 lovers & The Philistine is Fraser’s second release and follow up to 2007’s acoustic album Losing Home. This EP does not stray too far from Fraser’s roots with many songs gently crafted using only guitar, vocals and harmonica. However, Fraser expands the recording well with the inclusion of electric guitar, bass, lap steel guitar and some percussion on assorted tracks. The resulting songs are smooth, sweet, bluesy morsels of indie country. What really sets this recording apart from the growing crowd of alt-country acts that grace the Australian music scene is Fraser’s vocals. They masterfully compliment the texture of each song and range from the light and airy tones of ‘Three Days’ to the dark, bluesy swagger of ‘Old Oaks Road’ and ‘One Kind Favour.’ Fraser wrote all the songs on this EP bar ‘One Kind Favour’ which is a cover of a Blind Lemon Jefferson song. A cover, I’m sure, the old bluesman himself would be impressed with.

This EP is an impressive effort from Jay Fraser. It contains songs to fall in love to, songs to miss people to, songs to reflect about life to and songs to lament wasted opportunities to. Fraser currently has some of these songs available for download on the Triple J unearthed website and it will be interesting to see if the Australian public react as favourably to his music as they did to artists such as the Waifs, Lior and the Beautiful girls. 3 days, 7 lovers & the philistine is a beautifully crafted EP that offers an exceptional sample of what Fraser might have in store for future releases. - thedwarf.com.au


"CD Review: Jay Fraser – Sketches of a Renegade (2011)"

Nine months since the release of his long player Buildings of Dreams, Jay Fraser has returned with this four track EP. This EP sees Jay delve head first into an epic country/roots journey. There is a heap of atmosphere packed into the music to make you feel like you are traveling around regional Australia. Jay’s distinctive vocals paired with a strong twangy vocal delivery makes each piece paint a vibrant picture and takes you along with the various characters being sung about.
Devil’s play is a dark country tune, with just an acoustic guitar and vocals Jay puts out a solid atmosphere that makes you feel like you are stranded in the outback in the middle of the night. The dark vibes continue with the harsh sounds of The dark wood, this sees the guitar become even harsher and Jay’s vocals rawer with an unnerving menacing edge. The taunting of Del Toro is a more laid back offering with a more melancholy delivery. Breaking the reins is a slower rootsy offering about a criminal fugitive that closes the EP with one last dark but epic journey.
This is a brilliant EP with each track full of vivid imagery and atmosphere. This is exactly how Australian country music should sound.

Rating: 4.5/5 - Tomatrax


"Losin Home Review"

This is the debut recording from Tasmanian troubadour Jay Fraser, a collection of his own songs performed "al fresco", alone with his acoustic guitar and the odd toot of harmonica. There are plenty of gorgeous moments on this album, simple love songs and honest memos from the heart, with melodic vocals both strong and sweet, and guitar delivered with plenty of feel. The production quality is crystal clear, lending a sunny sparkle to Jay's uncomplicated fingerpicking and strumming style, and the songs are delivered with true innocence and sincerity, a rare commodity among many nu-folkies. While Jay's compositions are simple there are some clever quirks that move it out of the standard three chord arena and demonstrate care in his songwriting. The album kicks straight into About Woman Blues, a full-tilt country blues a la vintage Dylan, with plenty of harmonica hoot and some fine mandolin contributed by Pete Hicks. In many of the songs there are tender hints of Simon & Garfunkle or even James Taylor, while in Small Steps Jay goes a bit momentarily Nick Cave (!) with a dark growl through the verse before soaring into his characteristic falsetto for the chorus. Man Of Goodwill is a rousing and heartwarming folky tribute to a mentor friend, and Falsely Accused a call to freedom for "the desolate and the aimless men". Ballad Of Dechlan is particularly beautiful & poignant. This is a really interesting first effort from this developing songwriter, with quite a variety (17 songs!) and a dedication to his craft that is obviously sincere. The overall tone of the collection is summery and guileless, a lovely and slightly eccentric acoustic album. - Bradfield Dumpleton 2008 - Indie-CDs.com


"Losing Home Launch at Backspace Theatre, Hobart - April 21st 2007"

By Tamsyn Jones

Wet weather can be a bane to anyone hoping to lure a crowd out of doors and away from warm home hearths on a brisk autumn day. But, a recent rainy Saturday in April didn't seem to deter the diverse assemblage of people who turned up to hear the album debut of one of Tasmania's most promising talents on the singer-songwriter scene.

On 21 April, more than 50 Hobart music enthusiasts braved damp and drizzle to see Launceston-born Jay Fraser perform at the launch of his first CD, "Losing Home," at the Backspace Theatre in Hobart. The album – a collection of contemporary folk acoustic guitar, harmonica, and vocal songs – echoes with unvarnished honesty and the realistic reflections of one who's encountered the rough edges and whims, the joys and discontents of life and actually paused to ponder what it all means. For Fraser, it represents the culmination of a creative and emotional journey that began more than a year ago, one which led him across continents and new horizons of self discovery.

From planning to playing – and even a bit of poetry – Fraser's performance did not disappoint. Originality thrummed in the rousing chords, plaintive ballads, complex rhythms, and wide-ranging vocal dexterity of songs like "Falsely Accused," "Home (You're All Clear)", and "Chains." Variety was the operative word of the night. For those familiar with Fraser's work, the evening featured a delightful mix of old songs and new material, underscoring Fraser's constantly evolving creative impulse. First-timers in the audience were treated to a night full of surprises, talented guest musicians, and free food and drinks courtesy of Fraser himself.

The renowned mandolin playing of local legend Peter Hicks kicked off the launch, who then accompanied Fraser in a bluesy public duo debut of Fraser's new bluegrass-inspired song "About Woman Blues."

Under ambient hues of red and cool blue (a mood-setting lighting scheme devised by the musician himself), Fraser then took centre stage for the much-awaited performance premier of his creative musical milestone. Undaunted by a recalcitrant microphone that threatened to spoil his start, Fraser stayed calm and kept his wits about him, demonstrating an ease and stage presence born of experience and a maturing musical persona. After canvassing material ranging from his earliest forays into songwriting to new songs rife with innovative expression and a philosophical take on life, Fraser paused for one of a few surprises spattering the night's performance: a literary moment woven into the musical thread.

Leading with the song "Faith," Fraser segued to a reading from a book containing the letters of long-time prisoner George Jackson, a leader of the Black Panther Party who was incarcerated in 1959 and spent the last 12 years of his life in jail – most of it in solitary confinement – and was then shot dead four days before his parole. The song "Chains" linked the two, and the overarching sentiments about faith in oneself could have seemed a mantra for Fraser himself during the phase of life leading to the launch of his CD. "His body was his prisoner, but he freed his mind," Fraser said of Jackson's experience.
Guest musician Oberon Carter filled the break with his own guitar and vocal talents, and a third guest artist – Amy Kendall – added her vocal harmonies to Fraser's almost hauntingly wistful song "In Want of Love."

Those in the audience were treated to two additional surprises: a preview of Fraser's new song "If You Don't Mind," not on the current album, and a group rendition of Bob Dylan's song "Blowin' in the Wind," which brought together all the evening's guest musicians.

For the grand finale, Fraser performed one of his newest songs, "Belle," a smoky, rousing song with an epic quality filled with bluesy harmonica and complex strumming action worthy of a New Orleans blues bar. It was a fitting end to a successful night – one of Fraser's finest public performances, who seemed at ease and in top form – demonstrating without any doubt his versatility and instrumental skill.

Further proof of Fraser's artistic talents can be seen in the CD album itself, which showcases Fraser's own artwork and computer designs. CDs are available from Fraser's website: www.rubbishnight.com, and any inquiries about Fraser's playing or performance schedule can be directed to him at: rubbisnight@gmail.com - Drumbeat Magazine


Discography

Losing Home (2007) - 17 track full-length album. Airplay on several community radio stations around Australia, ABC Radio (Tasmania), BBC Humberside.

3 Days, 7 Lovers & The Philistine (March 2008) - 7 track album. Receiving airplay on on various Australian community radio stations, 2SER FM (Sydney), ABC Radio (Tasmania) & BBC 6Music (UK). Edge Radio (Hobart) Recommended.

Buildings of Dreams (January 2011) - 10 track album.
Receiving airplay on Triple J, Triple J Unearthed digital radio (playlisted), BBC 6 Music and on various independent radio stations around Australia, featured track in Triple J Unearthed weekly podcast with Dom Alessio (March 2011). Edge Radio (Hobart) Recommended.

Sketches of a Renegade (November 2011) - 4 track EP produced by Keith Angel (Kate Rusby, Martin Simpson, John Boden, In Fear Of Olive) at Wavelength Studios in Doncaster, UK. Receiving airplay on Triple J, Triple J Unearthed digital radio (playlisted), Edge Radio (Hobart), 4zzz (Brisbane), East Side FM (Sydney), Recharged Radio (London).

Photos

Bio

Australian musician Jay Fraser owes much to the influence of a drunken sailor. Being called upon in primary school to perform the ancient sea shanty was the first time he remembers paring D-chord melodies with sobering lyrics.

It was watching a Nick Drake documentary in 2004 though that spurred him to start putting his owns chords to paper. Today he is among a new wave of young Australian singer-songwriters gaining national and international recognition.

Fraser’s music is born from his exploits and travails as a modern-day travelling troubadour – and part-time accountant. Matching crisp guitar work with honest vocals, he has earned acclaim and airplay in high quarters.

In 2007 Fraser released his debut album ‘Losing Home’, followed in 2008 by ‘3 Days, 7 Lovers and the Philistine’.

Since ‘Losing Home’ he has found a new one in London. Here, more than 17,000 kilometres from childhood, he recorded his third studio album. Called ‘Buildings of Dreams’, the album captures in song Fraser’s escape from what he describes as the “quicksand years”. It charts his route from Launceston to London, from false love, and the backwater towns and dead-end jobs he took to get there.

Nine months after the release of the colourful ‘Buildings of Dreams’ and Fraser found himself kneeling before the alter of the blues for the release of ‘Sketches of a Renegade’ EP. The 4 tracks capture Fraser’s solo performance live off the floor at Wavelength Studios in Doncaster (UK) and were intuitively engineered by renowned folk/roots producer Keith Angel (Kate Rusby, Martin Simpson, John Boden, In Fear Of Olive). Fraser says of the EP, “the songs are dark and gritty, and I love that about them”.

Wherever he finds himself, Fraser impresses with his out-loud laugh and warm, considerate manner. Although he’s come a long way from Tasmania and the sea shanties, he’ll always fondly remember those drunken sailor roots.