#17. Brooke Fraser - Flags

The CCM Industry has been undergoing some tough times as of late. The generation that grew up listening to only that which played through the CD samplers of Christian Supply seems to have subconsciously become aware that the Christian music industry is neither more honest or more holy than its secular counterparts: only less original. Amidst the rubble of a kind of music that was created on being 'safe', a few voices have risen from within the industry that have reclaimed the artistic and risk-taking vision of the independent music scene for themselves (see Jon Foreman, John Mark McMillan, and Derek Webb). Brooke Fraser, the songwriting and vocal force behind Hillsong United, has had a quiet but substantial solo career that has culminated with the 2010 release, Flags, her most consistent and mature album yet. Make no mistake; this is straight-up pop/rock at its simplest and most concise. But under the command of Fraser's tested vocal quality and smart writing, its hard to be cynical. Opening with the joyously carefree, "Something in the Water", Fraser shows off a more organic and folk-oriented sound that manages to sound fresh and current, while still being incredibly accessible. What Flags does that so many singer-songwriter albums fail to do is capture a sound that doesn't feel contrived or disconnected from the songwriting. One of the primary reason that Flags succeeds in this respect is that this is the first album that Fraser actually produced herself: and the results really do pay off. Whether she is experimenting with folk-country in "Coachella" or Vampire Weekend antics in "Jack Kerouac", her keen sense of melodic lyricism and pop threads through each song, shining with understated confidence. At the end of Crows & Locusts, we even hear Christian music folding in on itself with Fraser using the words of a popular worship song to talk about the hardships of famine and growth. And even so, you can't help but wonder if she doesn't see a little of herself when she sings about a girl who "Feels her sweat in the ground and the burn in her nose/And the knowing in her guts/Something's still gonna grow/She ain't leaving till it does". Triple credited in this album as the vocalist, songwriter, and producer, Brooke Fraser has toiled her artistic vision and created a very personal, labor of love. Even more, Flags points to exciting directions for new movements in Christianity-informed music: here, a refreshing breathe of bold honesty and self-expression.

1 comment:

  1. hi

    what about the comments i told you last night? haha. remember. jk.

    but, my only thing is that brooke fraser isn't really apart of the christian music industry at all. they might consider her part of it, but i don't think she considers herself a part of them. right?