Chris Letcher

Frieze

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On "Deep Frieze," Frieze's opening track, Chris Letcher evokes Baltic sea wolves, Jason and the Argonauts, an emperor and a god, a mullet fin dish, and a parachute escape, a rather elaborate lyrical ruse to invoke a cascade of shifting emotions. Or at least that seems to be his theme. Letcher, the singer/songwriter and his eponymous band, have created an album underpinned by poetry and swaddled in atmospheric music. The latter, while oft times haunting and emotive, is merely a backdrop for Letcher's wonderful wordcraft. The South African may have flown the coop from one of his homeland's most popular rock bands, but he's since matured into one of the most sophisticated, intelligent writers around. In fact, even "singer/songwriter" doesn't do justice to his full-blown verse, with its multi-shaded nuances, carefully considered wording, and intellectually challenging themes. They're meant to be pondered, mulled over, and dissected, with their meanings sometimes obscured, to let one draw one's own conclusions. Some, like "Robotic Soldiers," are short and sharp, others like "Good Shepherd" wind their way around a theme strewing vivid imagery in their path. Some, like "Bird Caught Fire," evoke visceral emotion, while others just leave you wandering. Songs of the heart and songs of death, of political machinations and of EEG machines, dishonest lovers and spying secret agents, life as we know it, wish it, and loathe it, presented in ways we'd never expect.

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