It’s hard to believe that it’s been 7 years since Climbing Trees emerged with their debut album ‘Hebron’. The band subsequently saw a steady rise in popularity and were chosen for the BBC Horizons scheme. However, the big breakthrough didn’t materialise and for the past few years the band have been taking a break during which time lead singer Matthew Frederick has recorded his debut studio album. The music here is not surprisingly less muscular, more personal and intimate than his work with Climbing Trees. However, the integral ingredient of melody and high calibre song writing remains to the fore. Some of the best songs on the album are musically upbeat and superficially positive, however, a closer examination of the lyrics reveals a more forlorn or sad scenario. Examples include ‘Pink Blossom Snow’ which is musically bright but lyrically contemplative and ‘Tell Me’ which is an upbeat folk pop song but is also full of personal regret. There is a Sufjan Stevens/Bon Iver quality to several of the songs such as ‘Dust Cloud’ with its subdued and restrained vocal and the closing track ‘Morning Smile’ which may well turn out to be one of the best love songs you will hear this year. Matthew Frederick has established himself as one of the busiest and most popular musicians on the Welsh circuit. He is down to earth and cares deeply for his community and is in many ways an open book and the music here reflects that. There is nothing obtuse or complicated, there are no 15 minute epic quasi rock symphonies; there are simply well crafted songs with a story to tell. Climbing Trees may or may not return, however, this album should go a long way in confirming that Matthew Frederick should now be recognised as one of Wales’ finest songwriters and performers.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://www.newsoundwales.com/cd-reviews/matthew-frederick-fragments/