A Thoroughly Engaging EP

There's no questioning that Stephen Fretwell is one of the most engaging young singer/songwriters of today, with a vocal range that could be compared to Jeff Buckley and a similar penchant for hypnotic indie arrangements. From the icy, 'Sleep' with its twinkling traces of bells and heavily strummed acoustic guitar working their magic below Fretwell's tender, trembling vocals, to the pensive lament, 'Can This Be?', this new EP certainly bodes well for Fretwell's new album, which is due out this August. Fretwell's meandering and nervous vocals on 'Can This Be?' have more than a hint of Thom Yorke about them as they tremour with uncertainty.

'William Shatner's Dog' is, despite its comic name, another introspective musing over a broken relationship, getting caught up in all the bitter details, as Fretwell's tales do so well: "You went for some space and wound up with a slightly redder face, and a pain in your gut", "That bowl of lace is sat beside the gas fire where you probably lay eating ice cream chocolate lollies that your mother brought home from the freezer store". Each gentle rhyme is filled with a deliberate weight that pulls on the heartstrings as Fretwell utters them with stoic sincerity. While all the other tunes are somewhat sorrowful, opener 'The Scheme' is a lazy atmospheric number imbued with a bluesy feel and lazy vocals that sprawl over the simple backing track.

'Four Letters Words' is available only via download or as a limited edition CD, if you miss out, you'll surely miss being part of something very special and intimate, a charming album precursor and a delightful EP by itself.