‘By The Sea’ is a lovely record. “It’d last for a lifetime if you would just let it in,” sings Devonshire songwriter Freya Ward and all sounds right in the world. It’s the title track’s beguiling finger-picking and muted brass that draw you in to her world. But there’s more than just bare-bones production and three chords and the truth going on here.
Championed by 6 Music and BBC Introducing, Ward is a musician for hire who has performed alongside the likes of Imogen Heap and Laura Mvula, but this is her own debut. You can hear that hard work pay-off in the craft of ‘Hourglass‘ (great guitar work and double-tracked vocals), for example, and there are some great instrumental choices and vocal affections that make this EP stand-out.
‘Won’t You Take Me Home‘ is more of a breezy strum and one that suits Ward’s voice well, while opener ‘I Followed A Bird‘ has a touch of Eels-fronted-by-Laura-Marling about it. Double-tracked vocals and a singer harmonising with themselves can lead to hokeyness, but this is an authentic work full of truth and beauty.
One to watch, then? Absolutely. First shots across the bow rarely sound as assured as this as they crash into the water.