Flags (Deluxe Version)
New Zealand native Brooke Fraser's literate lyrics and wistful melodic bent show an increasing maturity, while her sweet, slightly aching voice conveys fragility with great underlying strength. Fraser moves beyond the introspection of 2006’s Albertine to paint more diverse portraits and scenes. Her musical palette is rich and diverse — “Jack Kerouac” percolates with Afrobeat guitar lines, providing contrast to the glistening arctic tones of “Ice On Her Lashes.” A rush of happiness animates “Something In the Water” (a head-over-heels love tune) and “Coachella” (a buoyant celebration of unity through dance and music). Love of a more complicated kind is explored in the tormented yet melodically graceful “Who Are We Fooling” (a duet with Aqualung's Matt Hales). Fraser snatches hope out of pervasive darkness in “Crows & Locusts” and offers a character sketch of a lonely woman in “Betty.” Her Christian outlook shines through in the moody, Daniel Lanois-like title tune. Taken in sum, Flags is an exceptionally intelligent, emotionally resonant work in the best singer/songwriter tradition.