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Album Review

English singer/songwriter Stephen Fretwell declares his lonely and amorous intentions during the first few seconds of his Fiction/Interscope debut with a solitary piano note surrounded by the distant screeching of seagulls. Listeners turned off by the image may as well give up right there, as the remaining tracks on Magpie expound on the mellow ache of heartbreak and self-doubt with nary a crack in the sun to be had. Fretwell's soft and breathy delivery is reminiscent of Wilco's Jeff Tweedy or a less brooding Leonard Cohen, and his soft, sparse arrangements help set the mood for the kind of melancholy that feels good. Even the more fleshed-out tracks like "Run" and "Lines" sound as if they were made by the artist alone in an abandoned barn by the seaside, and it's a testament to his misery that they when the chords shift into major the songs lose nothing of their self-imposed isolation. Fans of dreamy adult contemporary Brit-pop who have always wondered what Coldplay, Travis, or Elbow would sound like without all of the bells and whistles will find an answer within the forever-moribund world of Stephen Fretwell's Magpie. [The U.K. version of Magpie includes bonus tracks.]

Customer Reviews


I spend so many hours looking for music like this. It so rare when you stumble upon something thats exceptional. Well over the years you hear a few and you try to share the excitement, while at the same time you are a little disappointed if they get big and catch on. Until that time they are a little like a secret place to open your emotions. Sounds crazy well its common particularly amongst other songwriters/ So usually they are snatched up in a whirlwind and disappear. well boys and girls heres one of them right here -enjoy !! One of the best Albums / CD'S Ive heard in a long time. As well as a true songwriter For example elliot smith, Fiona Apple, counting crowes, steve forbert, ellis paul, jewel, Marc Cohn, Wall Flowers, jeff buckley as far back as Kristofferson & jacksone browne in the early 70's. & of course Bruce. I will never forget the dazed and confuzed feeling of emotions after hearing "Blinded by the Light" and "Sandy", "For You" & "Hard to be a Saint in the City" On this CD I heard the song Bad Bad You, Bad Bad Me just a brief excerpt on TV and I knew I was hooked. The rest of the CD did not disappoint. hmc

i think

I totally agree with you, i am online constantly at tons of different sites trying to find new people, there are so few people who can actually "Move" you, Stephen Fretwell does that, and does it so well. some music i can listen to while on the computer or doing homework or whatever, but when i listen to stephen i cant concentrate on anything, the best i could do is walk, otherwise im paralyzed to everything else. If you like this i think you'll love Joe Purdy, Damien Jurado, ray lamontagne, the list goes on but these are a few. alex

better than blunt

if you liked james blunts cd-which was ok-you will love stephen fretwells magpie,which came out at the same time,but of course,hes not taking his clothes off or sing the ubiquitous"you're beautiful" so has not achieved the same popularity as of yet.


Born: 1981 in Scunthorpe, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s

Born in the town of Scunthorpe in 1981, English singer/songwriter Stephen Fretwell was introduced to the music of Bob Dylan at a young age. Using a borrowed guitar from his grandparents, the young artist began writing his own songs and made tapes for his family and friends. After an aborted attempt at university life -- he lasted two days -- Fretwell relocated to Manchester, where his clear northern voice, poetic lyrics, and melodic guitar work soon won him an audience. After landing a much sought-after...
Full Bio

Top Albums and Songs by Stephen Fretwell

Magpie, Stephen Fretwell
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Customer Ratings