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Australian songstress hones storytelling on latest album

of the Oakland Press

Posted: Saturday, May 7, 2011

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Brooke Fraser says that the “seed” of her songs is “always something personal.” But over the course of her three albums — the latest being 2010’s “Flags” — the singer-songwriter has pushed to get a little more fiction into her songs.

“I really wanted to stretch myself as a songwriter,” explains Fraser, 27, who was born in New Zealand and now resides in Australia. “The mission was to try things from a different angle. Stories and narratives and characters kind of come into play with these (newer) songs; that was me trying to get out of the box I’d gone into of very personal, first-person experience kind of songs.”

Fraser says that on “Flags” she was particularly influenced by what she was reading at the time, including books by John Steinbeck, Flannery O’Connor and Kathryn Stockett’s “The Help.”

“When I think about relaxing,” Fraser says, “I’m always more drawn to the idea of sitting down in a quiet room with a book and a cup of tea than putting on headphones and listening to an iPod.”

One of her “Flag” tracks, meanwhile, has a local connection; it was co-written with Switchfoot’s Jon Foreman and also with Ben West from the Detroit group Real Efforts of Real People.

“I met Ben through the keyboard player on my second album (‘Albertine’), and he became a really close friend and is a super-talented guy,” Fraser says. “I started (‘Betty’) at home in Sydney and then came over to Detroit to do some writing with Ben. I ended up re-writing another part with Jon Foreman later on, but ‘Betty’ had a crucial evolutionary stage in Michigan, which was fun.”

Brooke Fraser and Cary Brothers perform Saturday, May 7, at St. Andrew’s Hall, 321 E. Congress St., Detroit. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15. Call 313-961-8137 or visit www.livenation.com.

Web Site: www.livenation.com

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