It must have been around about 2017 when I first heard Freya Ridings. I was working in JD Sports in Colchester and it was added to the playlist. Every now and again they’d chose a slower song to switch things up. The song at the time was Blackout. This memorable, piano-driven melody, ghostly in essence. Naturally, I was hooked.
Before long my best friend and I were both obsessed and were trying to find times where we could both see her live (not managed it yet). A few singles later and Freya is here with her self-titled debut album.
It’s been out a few weeks now but I hadn’t had a huge amount of time to listen to it properly. Now I’ve been listening to it constantly over the last week, it’s time to give you guys my thoughts.
Firstly, I want to pick out a few stand-out songs for me: Castles, Still Have You and Love Is Fire. I want to pick these out, not just because they are 3 of my favourites but they have key differences between them that I feel sum up the tone of the whole album. We’ve got ‘Castles’ which is a headstrong, determined rebuttal from heartbreak. No longer a victim of manipulation or sadness, Freya celebrates to a poppy tune of how she will build “castles from the rubble of your love”. From this broken debris of brick and ash, she is going to create something far stronger and more astonishing, proving the lover mentioned has no hold over her anymore. It holds sadness in its existence but exists to thrive in spite of it.
Then we come to “Still Have You” which slows down to a tempo and a lyrical melancholy that we might associate more to Freya’s first singles. It journeys along with a hauntingly soft piano and vocal. There are parts to it that feel like it should belong to a happy love song, but with the longing, and what feels like exhaustion, in the tone of singing we understand it is more a last attempt to reach out. It is, or at least feels like, an outstretched hand to a distancing friend or lover that knows it will not return if its rejected again. It sad in its optimism because there is still a conflicting pessimism at its core. “Would I still have you?” is sung with a kind of defeated exertion, breaking a little bit on its repetition near the end that almost positions it as a rhetorical question Freya need not ask. A similar tone can be found in Lost Without You and Blackout, too. A wholly relatable feeling that not only becomes visceral in its lyrics, but also in its delivery.
Lastly, there is Love Is Fire. Positively ecstatic in comparison to the last two. It is one of Freya’s more romantic and upbeat songs. Often I worry artists who are more comfortable with slower and sadder songs are forced to place a happy poppy tune for the radio, but it doesn’t feel forced in this album. Love Is Fire still holds the unique and smokey tone of Freya’s voice but with the catchiness and recognisable backing track style that creates a strong feeling of happiness. It’s an empowering tribute to allowing yourself to feel whatever you feel: “if love is fire, then I burn for you”. Sort of like a comforting response to ‘Still Have You’ ‘Love Is Fire’ celebrates reaching out your hand even when it feels terrifying. It celebrates feeling the ‘fear’ and doing it anyway: “if you never risk, then you never know.”
Freya’s self-titled album is a fantastic start to her introduction to the music industry. Already hugely popular, this album will show the world just how varied her style can be (always a sensible thing to do with a debut). Many people have compared her to Adele, but I don’t feel this is completely accurate. I understand the comparison and it’s almost as if Freya’s voice and many of her songs is reminiscent of the 2011 era and before of female indie/pop that dominated the charts. Adele, Sophie Ellis Bextor, even an operatic hint of Amy Lee, I can hear all in Freya’s astounding and intriguing vocal ability and can not wait for what is in store for her future.
Stream it now!