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Customer reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
Format: Audio CD|Change

on 24 January 2017
Wow! You might be forgiven for thinking that Stephen is the standard man in the corner with his with a guitar but you couldn't me more wrong. Each listen I find something else from the depths of this lovingly recorded album. That syncopated piano is something else.
Whether it's sitting by the fire on a cold night as one reviewer suggested or in your car on the drive to work. This didn't just have me humming at all day, this had me waking up in the night with little fragments playing over and over.
Then we get to the lyrics. I'm not saying he's a poet like Dylan Thomas but it definitely had me picturing the same sort of scenes and situations that Mr Thomas would have.
If like me you are late to buying this, you've got a wonderful treat in store. Easily the best album you'll buy this year.
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on 7 April 2016
This guy is a genius. Simple, brilliant songs - I wish he would reappear from wherever he has been hiding, write some more music and tour. Buy.
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on 16 October 2014
awesome album, simple yet well-written songs, and Stephen has a great, unique voice!
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on 19 December 2015
Beautiful album, but where has Mr Fretwell gone after his trip to the roof?
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on 22 March 2013
this is in my best album of all time. Need more from this guy & when can we see you on tour
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on 27 February 2005
...but this bundle of music has led me to make an exception. I am sure that the average Amazon reviewer will give 5 stars for his or her favourite CD, and I'll make no fuss about doing the same. Fretwell has something so real, unspoilt, and clear in his music and lyrics that he leaves another chamber in that area where he struck that chord in you (heart? mind? soul?) open; you go back for more... and more. Who was that girl this morning on the bus? Where is the friend you skipped school with when you were 17? Whatever happened to those plans you had last year about changing your life within the next year?
It's not necessarily what the storyteller tells; sometimes it's what you connect with it that makes the story for you. Fretwell tells it like it is in his world through his lyrics and music, but he always leaves you the opportunity to finish the picture. This is what seperates the music makers from the music relators (the other 99.5%).
I won't say "listen to this track" or "track x is the best" - find the one(s) that strike that chord in you. Make it personal. Make Stephens story your story. Then press repeat.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 8 September 2005
I don't know what I was expecting when I bought this record, but I don't think it was a folk album! The chord changes are perhaps more indie than folk, but it's basically folk music. If you liked Moving Up Country by James Yorkeston and the Athletes then the the slow building Do You Want to Come With? will certainly ring your bells. If Richard Hawley takes the sound of Scott Walker and brings it right up to date with a little northern witt and charm, then Steven Fretwell does the same to the songs of Tim Hardin. The production is perfect. I've heard a couple of albums lately where the artist has tried to create a "live" sound and failed. Steven pulls it off with aplomb. It sounds like he's sat with his band on top of your hi-fi, when he laughs a little mid song (i think from memory it's on What's That You Say Little Girl) you can't help but laugh with him. Where the music itself is sparse and acoustic, occasionally lifted with a little light (and beautifully syncopated) piano, the lyrics are confesional and warm. They lift the arangements and stop the whole thing from drowning in melancholy. I guess that Steven Fretwell could be classed as this years Damien Rice. He is certainly much closer to Damian than Coldplay or Snow Patrol or any current Indie act. Whilst Damian's arrangements are endlessly inventive, his lyrics and vocal style eventually became too much for me. I just don't need that much traumor in my life! You're safe with Steven Fretwell though, he'll take your heart, but promise not to break it.
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on 15 February 2006
Stephen Fretwell's 'Magpie' is, without doubt, one of the best albums of 2005. Understated, folk-infused acoustic guitar, accompanied by Fretwell's mellow (and unmistakably Mancunian) voice make this the perfect album for lying on the sofa, closing your eyes, and letting yourself drift away for an hour or so. But to simply call it an easy-listening album would be to do Fretwell a gross disservice. His lyrics are full of vivid imagery; he sings of the complexities of a relationship in 'Bad Bad You, Bad Bad Me', his own insecurities in 'Rose', and at times can be scathing with his words, such as in 'Emily'. Comparisons with Nick Drake and Damien Rice are inevitable, but Stephen Fretwell is very much an artist following his own path...whilst his arrangements are maybe simpler than those of Drake or Rice, his music is certainly a little edgier - far closer to the indie vein than the more traditional folk of Drake. To date, only 'Emily' has received any real airplay on UK radio, which is a shame, because there are much stronger songs on the album which deserve to be heard.
This is a criminally overlooked album, and one of the best by a UK artist in the past few years. Buy 'Magpie'...you won't be disappointed.
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on 18 January 2005
Varied styles throughout this modern day classic. Meaningful lyrics coupled with haunting melodies that warrant recognition to a much wider audience. Every track is a joy to listen to and I guarantee that anyone who appreciates music will not be disappointed by any one single track its that good
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on 14 March 2006
On first listen I admit I only gave this album a 3* rating, and now realise the error of my ways. For what we have here is a beautiful album full of dark, reflective songs, well-written and brilliantly produced. It'd be too easy to write Stephen Fretwell off as a sombre musician, for whilst many of the tracks do reflect a somewhat dark atmosphere to the album, there is little doubt that this album is excellently written. The single 'Emily' is the perfect example of everything thats good about this album, so if you fancy a taster I'd recommend listening to that track. The album is very biographical, featuring many lyrics that the listener can immeditately relate to and because of this I feel Fretwell deserves plenty of credit for drawing the listener in by producing music they can associate with. There is nothing mind-blowing in terms of intensity, but if you want to listen to some seriously good folky music, dark, yet exciting vocals, then 'Magpie' may be just the album you are looking for. It reminds me a little of Jeff Buckley's 'Grace' in terms of the mood it creates, but nevertheless it has the ability to stand up on its own as an excellent array of songwriting
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