Written by Jason Hillenburg, posted by blog admin
Grace Freeman is an artist who immediately impresses as a talent with confidence and a skill set far beyond her nineteen years. One shouldn’t lightly throw terms like “prodigy” around, but it’s apparent upon encountering Grace Freeman’s music that you’re contending and being entertained by a truly special voice – both as a singer and songwriter. She exercises command and care over the material on her solo debut Shadow that outstrips what we’ve heard from her peers and touches on avowed influences like Joni Mitchell, Regina Spektor, The Cure, and The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson, among others, while retaining an instantly identifiable musical, lyrical, and vocal identity. The eleven songs included on the release are reflective, as well, of the exponential growth in her talent since she first began writing songs at age ten and performing at open mics by age thirteen. She’s learned her artistic lessons so far and the future seems boundless based on this offering.
“Oliver” is a muted and deeply meditative opener. The production multi-tracks Freeman’s voice at select points and it accentuates the natural ethereal lilt in her voice without ever risking self-indulgence. The guitar work is understated and weaves throughout its duration with eloquent fluency. Freeman’s title song is built around piano instead of acoustic guitar and the arrangement is nearly as spartan. Bringing drumming into the song imbues it with a much more dramatic quality and it’s further testimony to the depths of her talent that, at even such a young age, she’s able to bring this sort of feel off without succumbing to the purple, overwrought hand of youth. The near shuffle jaunt of “Trying to Say Goodbye” tempers its melancholy sentiments in a significant and artful way and there’s a lightly playful quality in her vocal that never undercuts the seriousness of the song. She comes across with such cool confidence, wearing each song like a loose garment, and the emotive connection she establishes with each track makes it a more memorable listening experience.