It’s been quite a while for Stephen Fretwell. As one of the people who adored his much lauded debut Magpie, and it’s follow up – 2007’s Man on the Roof, I (and I imagine quite a few others) wondered what had happened. Turns out family life, with Fretwell bringing up his two sons in Brighton, admitting that he “didn’t come up for air until my son started school, by which time we had another son. I just forgot about song-writing. I didn’t even own a guitar for five years.”
He’s back now with a new single ‘Oval’, out now on Speedy Wunderground. Of the song, Stephen says “I think it is a song about marriage, the actuality of it, the responsibility of it, and the gamble. When my girlfriend was pregnant with our first son, we moved to a flat near the Oval in London. As our marriage fell apart a few years ago, it was this simple song that was the only thing I had to stick in the ground and push on with making some new music. I wrote the song about watching my wife look out of the window in that flat in Oval, looking at her new life as a mother, our new life as parents, and I was trying to show that in some way the beauty that we are gifted by becoming parents is often haunted by the loss of something, too.”
The good news is Fretwell hasn’t lost that ability to write music that really moves you, the accompaniment little more than his guitar bubbling underneath along with little flecks of organ here and there. Beautifully understated and heartbreakingly honest.