LIVE REVIEW: Fraeya's 'Housewarming' Single Launch
Folk-rock act Fraeya has been a favourite around Perth for a while now, steadily building a following with her soulful voice and incisive songwriting. Starting out as a solo act, with lead singer Fraeya Evans wielding an electric guitar to devastating effect, the four-piece band debuted last year, adding a different power and edge to the music. No matter how they’re played, though, the songs remain the same, mixing universal themes of love, loss and youth with a quintessentially and endearing Perth style. On Saturday night, accompanied by Jacob Diamond, Hyclass and Salary, debut single ‘Housewarming’ was given a deservingly tender sendoff.
Opener Jacob Diamond started off the evening, playing a mix of old and more recent songs. ‘New Museum’ was a particular standout, despite being — as Diamond remarked wryly — ‘a bit of a downer’. ‘Screaming Overture’, the opening track off of debut EP Goodbye Gondwana, also demanded attention, as did an impromptu riff of the Eagle’s theme tune. The Bird always feels like more of a family home than a dive bar, and the familiar faces crowded at the front of the stage only reinforced the comfortable, intimate mood.
Hyclass brought her trademark strength and bite, running through her discography with vivacity. ‘Queen’, a deserved favourite, had the audience bouncing. There’s nobody quite like Hyclass; she takes a real joy in performing and her energy is infectious. By the end of her set I saw nothing but smiles. The same was true of Salary, another intriguing, unique folk act. Despite the sheer number of musicians they managed to cram on the stage, every track flowed perfectly. Playing tracks from recent EP ‘Cul de Sac Breakdown’ as well as older material, their set was a warm mix of folk and blues.
Fraeya started off with ‘Highway’, a melancholy elegy to someone who’s no longer there. Making good use of Evans’ clear, emotional tone, it felt deeply personal, like listening to a love letter. Supported by Noah Dillon on guitar and Spacey Jane’s Amelia Murray on bass, with Chet Morgan on drums, the track built to a powerful crescendo before coming back down for a wistful finish. For songs so thoughtfully written, it might have been easy for the instrumentals to overpower the lyrics, but the band worked excellently as a whole; polished but genuine.
A cover of Big Thief’s ‘Masterpiece’ was also a standout, bold and strong, with the band taking an obvious delight in playing. ‘Bus Home’ also showcased Evans’ songwriting skill, turning a journey on public transport into a reflection on relationships and love. Debut single ‘Housewarming’ was the centrepiece; sweetly executed. It’s a sad but hopeful song, expertly running through a series of vivid images and moods.
Sometimes all it takes is a particular line to really drive home the emotion of a track, and ‘Housewarming’ has such a wonderful and evocative ending phrase — ‘My mum says she likes the sound of your name / and I think I finally feel the same’ — that worked wonderfully live.
“All female artists are queens,” Evans said earlier in the set, grinning. Folk can be a male-dominated genre, and it was absorbing and refreshing to listen to a woman’s stories and reflections. Fraeya makes music accessible and relatable to everyone, I think, but it also fills a need for a perspective that‘s often been overlooked.
Coming home from the gig, I felt thoughtful, warm, and most importantly of all, understood.