Scottish singer-songwriter Fraser Anderson learnt his trade as a touring vocalist with Dougie MacLean OBE the Scottish institution best known for his song ‘Caledonia’. Anderson would go on to a solo career that commenced with a debut album ‘and the girl with the strawberry…’ released as far back as 2004 with the follow up ‘Coming Up For Air’ praised by Bob Harris no less in 2007. This decade of musical exploration has seen Anderson share the stage with such diverse talents as Joan Armatrading and rock legend Chuck Berry. Despite these achievements Anderson surprisingly still falls into the best kept secret category. It is even more surprising when you hear ‘Little Glass Box’.
The best kept secret tag could be a thing of the past now Anderson has signed a five year deal with Membran records in Germany allowing ‘Little Glass Box ‘to reach a wider audience. Recorded in the Languedoc region of France, famed for its wine, and only previously available at his gigs ‘Little Glass Box’ is a fine album with a soulful, folk sound that has been compared to Nick Drake and John Martyn which is high praise indeed.
The first thing that strikes you about ‘Little Glass Box’ is the lovely clear sound which allows the songs to breath and the fantastic musicianship on this intimate album to shine. Opener ‘Rag & Bones’ sets the scene with celebrated double bassist Danny Thompson (John Martyn, Nick Drake) bringing a warmth to the album alongside gentle brushed percussion from Martin Ditcham (Sade). The pair forms the perfect rhythm section to underpin Anderson’s acoustic guitar and smooth vocal that naturally switches from a sensual huskiness to a sweet falsetto. This musical template is further expanded with the involvement of Max Middleton (Jeff Beck, John Martyn, Snowy White) who adds his trademark Fender Rhodes skills to the mix on ‘Never Know’. ‘Warhorse’ is superb with Middleton and Thompson in perfect harmony as trumpeter Dick Pearce (Ronnie Scott Quintet) weaves his magic. The basic song structure might have taken a more upbeat turn on the jazzy ‘New York’ but the exemplary playing still compliments the melancholia “If anyone had told you would you still be with me” prevalent in the lyrics. Highlights continue with the initially sparse ‘Waterfall’ featuring a harmony vocal from wife Grace that is unexpected but welcome. The album closes with the emotive ‘Run These Lines’ that features a sole mandolin perform a fitting coda on the extended fade.
Fraser Anderson may have forged his own path during his career which is to be commended but with the release of ‘Little Glass Box’ I hope he is able to reach a much wider audience. Sit back, dim the lights and relax with a glass of wine, no doubt from the Languedoc region, and enjoy this fine album.
The album will be released in France, Germany and the UK on Feb 10th 2015.