Stephen Fretwell
FICTION 10.9.07

Those who only know Stephen Fretwell from the rather drippy ‘Emily’ may well be inclined to lump the singer-songwriter in with such nu-acoustic chumps as Jack Johnson and Newton Faulkner. Yeah, I was one such person, often told by the believers that my assumptions were wide off the mark.

Indeed, ‘Man On The Roof’ sets Fretwell apart from such twunterry and, although some tracks namely ‘Bumper Cars’ and ‘Sleep’ drift towards the drearier end of indie, it’s not a bad listen.

Opener ‘Coney’ is a spirited country-flavoured swing that sounds a bit like Badly Drawn Boy, only not rubbish. Rockabilly influences the toe-tapping ‘Scar’, whilst the excellent ‘She’ marries Lennon-esque piano chords with melancholy harmonies. ‘The Ground Beneath Your Feet’ and ‘Dead’ both suggest Ryan Adams by way of Scunthorpe.

‘Man On The Roof’ is no reinvention of the wheel; rather it’s an honest collection of simple acoustic songs that, for once, is not eyeing up the young urban professional market.

Oh, and if mentioning Rod Hull in the thanks list is connected to the album title, then Fretwell has an evil sense of humour!

Ross Halewood