There’s something to be said for an artist who’s genuine. While the emo backlash may have turned a few sour on earnest, heartfelt songwriting, there’s only so long a person can go on listening to kitsch and wild genre hybridization until he feels the need to hear something real. With Edith Frost, that’s exactly what you get. Her songwriting never feels forced or contrived, and you’re always left with the feeling of having had a long talk with a good friend, rather than having played part in some kind of bizarre performance art piece. And maybe it’s ironic that she shares a label with eccentrics like Jim O’Rourke, but there’s no façade to her music.
Being the earnest and human songwriter that she is, Frost took four years to create It’s a Game, her fourth studio album. Though the more lush sounds of Wonder Wonder have been put aside in favor of a gentle, folky sound, ultimately it’s her soft and sincere voice that’s most recognizable. And being the versatile artist that she is, Frost sounds just at home playing quiet, country-tinged folk songs as she does sweeping countrypolitan masterpieces.
Like most true-to-heart singer-songwriters, however, Frost can delve into the sadder side of human existence and flawed relationships. In just the first song alone (“Emergency”), she sings of infidelity and desperation:
It’s got to be an emergency
`cuz it feels like you’re lying to me
like you’re looking for a way to break free
Meanwhile, the title track finds Frost singing about simple pleasures and “distractions” like eating ice cream and riding in the back of a limo. The outstanding “What’s the Use” takes on another problematic relationship, offering the challenge, “gotta be a man about it.” And over gentle acoustic guitar chords and dreamy organ, Frost directs her emotion toward a memento in “Lucky Charm.”
What’s interesting about Frost, however, is that, like most people, her emotions actually rise and fall, rather than being focused on merely one aspect of the human condition. There is anger, there is sadness, there is joy and there is nostalgia. There is hope and there is despair. And all the while, you never feel as if you’ve been duped. We could always use more performers like Edith Frost. While spectacle is fun from time to time, it’s always reassuring to be able to come back to something truly touching and authentic.
Cat Power – Moon Pix
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Kristin Hersh – Sunny Border Blue
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.