Eleanor Friedberger – Last Summer

Hailing from Oak Park, Illinois, Eleanor Friedberger made her first strides into the music business with her brother Matthew as psychedelia tinged indie rockers The Fiery Furnaces, who’s first album ‘Gallowsbird’s Bark’ was released in 2003 and who have since gone on to release a remarkably prolific nine albums (including compilations and live albums) in the intervening years. ‘Last Summer’ however, is Eleanor’s first foray into solo work and is an exceptionally worthy addition to her back catalogue.

The album opens with ‘My Mistakes’, a catchy little number with ‘single’ written all over it. It is rather a whimsical and light hearted introduction to an album that, whilst reflecting artists such as Kate Bush, Joni Mitchell and early David Bowie, carves a solid and unique path throughout. The general feeling of the album is one of reminiscence and as the album progresses, there are little sparks of influence from various different genres that are obviously close to Friedberger’s creative heart, with elements of folk, particularly on tracks such as ‘Heaven’ and ‘One Month Marathon’ and indie on ‘I Won’t Fall Apart On You Tonight’, but also allowing time to dip into a more funky electronic sound for ‘Roosevelt Island’, and the soulful ‘Glitter Gold Year’.

The delightful fact about ‘Last Summer’ is that, despite it’s influences, the album resolutely refuses to be pigeon-holed into a particular bracket, but still manages to maintain a feeling of completeness. The real string that ties the album together is Friedberger’s voice, which maintains a great consistancy throughout, yet shows a gorgeous range, allowing the tone of the music to soar from the earthy to the angelic, and from the quirky to the considered. Lyrically, there are splashes of eccentricity and oddness, but this, combined with the high quality of the musical composition, only serves to heighten the personal feel of the album, and certainly sets it further apart from the staid and formulaic nature of standard singer-songwriter fare.

‘Last Summer’ was released on 21st October 2011 by City Slang.

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About Steve Hancock

Steve is the host of the Cosmic Fragments radio show, he is also the creator and main contributor to the Cosmic Fragments website. On the side, he is also a failing musician, dog owner and shabby boyfriend, he does all of this while maintaining a full time job that provides little financial reward.