Eleanor Friedberger was always destined for success: a voice glowing with inner strength reminiscent of Patti Smith, the pop storytelling poignancy of Elvis Costello and an ear for elegant melodies echoing Neil Young classics. Recorded live-to-tape in an out-of-town converted barn in Germantown, upstate NY, ‘New View’ breathes vast open spaces, cool poise and easy confidence of someone comfortable in their own musical skin.
The record abounds with familiar Friedberger observations and personal, intimate details that make each narrative at once both uniquely individual and universal. “We’d muddle through ’til dusk, then we’d huddle in our coats,” she sings in the final track ‘A Long Walk’ and, suddenly, her story becomes your own story. ‘Because I Asked You’ betrays edgy frustration; yet it is a narrative of love that brings to light all that is sacred in a long-term relationship.
Friedberger’s songs come to life in nuances and witty evocative descriptions. The folk-tinged lullaby of ‘Never Is A Long Time’ is sublimely beautiful in its honest simplicity. The swirling Wurlitzer piano secret attraction story of ‘Cathy with the Curly Hair is pitched against an open, joyous declaration of new love in ‘All Known Things’; its soaring blue-sky melody is permeated with happiness and breezy bohemian charms. Despite its title, ‘Sweet Girl’ feels most untamed, bristling with frustrated energy and pain; whereas ‘Does Turquoise Work?’ has a more guarded character, first tip-toeing with caution then gradually unfolding, until finally taking flight.
Although the lyrical themes aren’t necessarily treading new ground - and at times sound feel more 1970s than 2010s - ‘New View’ is the most self-assured realisation of the Friedberger’s delicately eloquent and intelligent musical talent.
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A surreal trip that feels like you’re voyaging through someone else’s dreams or scattered, fragmented memories.
A confident stride into new territory that pulls the listener into Eleanor’s orbit.
She’s also shared new track ‘In Between Stars’.
Third album is out next January.