In order to lay the foundations for his follow up to the masterful ‘Magpie’ album, the Scunthorpe born and now Manchester homed, Stephen Fretwell not so long ago, musically bared all in a stripped down acoustic tour. This provided a refreshing perspective into his song building process, reminding those of us in attendance that the longing power of his commanding voice runs best off a basic and slow moving accompaniment. It is an approach that is the base for this EP, as ‘The Scheme’ scatters a bluesy touch over ambient finger clicking sounds and leisurely, hollow guitars.
The slow and haunting ‘Sleep’, draws out Fretwell’s slightly desperate, but lingeringly commanding cries of earthy poetry perfectly. This four track EP represents a move away from the flighty nature of Magpie, preferring to amble and take in life’s scenery like Philip Larkin on a train. ‘Can This Be?’ picks up the pace in a romance foraging ode and shows up the contemplative nature of Mr Fretwell. Bracing, yet strangely uplifting is the conclusion about this tempting release.