Frida Touray is a Swedish and London-based artist who, with the release of her debut EP ‘Mending’ (E2 Music, Edition 22/2/22), looks set to capture an audience of listeners seeking an artist who brings songs to life with energy and passion. There is something familiar about Frida Touray, and perhaps this comes not just from the fact she has worked with Lianne La Havas since 2015, so those familiar with Havas’ work may have heard her perform, but she has also toured and recorded with highly recognisable artists including Liam Gallagher, Ed Sheeran, Ellie Goulding, NAO, Cinematic Orchestra and Laura Marling. Recently she appeared on Goldie’s track ‘Lost’ along with Tom Misch. Touray has also written and performed with Jordan Rakei on the single ‘Signs,’ later re-released featuring Common.
Now, Frida is stepping out from the shadows and bringing her experience – and voice – into the spotlight. This new EP, produced by Chris Hyson with co-production from Yves Fernandez, marks a shift in Touray’s focus as an artist in her own right. ‘Mending’ is just five tracks, but the music captivates and provokes emotions you might not be aware of. Touray has amassed exemplary musicians on the release, including Chris Hyson on synthesiser and piano, Joe Webb on piano, Daniel See on drums, Alex Haines on guitar, Yves Fernandez on bass, Tatjana Lljasova on piano, Samuel Crowe on Wurlitzer, and Russell Smith on lap steel guitar
‘Mending’ is a profoundly personal release that shows Touray at her most vulnerable, capturing the essence of who she is and how she sees the world. She says of the music, “’ Mending’ is about a journey through love and relationships, how you evolve through them, and how sometimes, painful and intense they can feel when everything feels unaligned. How messy and beautiful they can be. For me, it was a creative choice to be as honest and vulnerable as I could be without thinking about it having to be edgy or cool sounding. I wanted softness in this music, and I wanted that softness to represent healing in the subject matters and stories that I’m telling. Each song is an honouring of the relationships I have formed over the years, regardless of their journey, how they began or ended, and the title track, ‘Mending,’ is one I wrote as a reminder to myself of my own healing, my route to forgiving myself for any mistakes I made when I felt lost and out of my power. To take accountability but free yourself in the process.”
Each song on the EP reflects a snippet of life as Touray aims to create timeless music, not influenced by what’s cool or trending. These heartfelt, emotional songs of love and life come straight from her experiences.
This music represents a new start for Frida, with a new focus on her music. The listener, it has to be said, needs little convincing. The quality and purity of her voice leave no doubts as to the talent of this artist or the worthiness of now being the moment to come into her own.
In ‘Out The Sun,’ the music fades in over a brief narrative where Frida introduces the song as about a girl who repeatedly breaks her heart. Her whimsical humming introduces her vocals softly and gently before she progresses into the lyrical melody, where she tells of forcing herself to go out in the sun after losing her love and wondering where they might be.
‘Never Mine’ is sultry and seductive, and the singer asks if we believe in magic and questions whether a lover was ever really hers. The emotion is strong in this number, and Frida imparts her vulnerability and strength. When her voice soars in emotional phrases, it is a thing of beauty. The accompanying arrangement has real panache.
‘Man On Wings’ is a deep groove, a sensual track with Touray revealing a vocal style that peels back the layers covering the soul. ‘I have come to no conclusions; I am only sorry for the storm…I have never loved him the way I loved him now…nothing left to hide’ and Touray indeed hides nothing as she reveals how she was sure of love only find things were not what she thought. Touray demonstrates her ability on this track to flit note to note, seemingly picking up the notes between the tones she lands on and brushing the vocals with a touch of pure magic.
‘Wild’ is about telling someone they are beautiful and special, how they will find support and protection - how people might not see the beauty beyond compare that she sees in them. A gorgeous number, full of restrained energy, which rises and is controlled as the emotions come and go. ‘I’ll protect your solitude if that’s where you’re at peace, but I won’t let you hide there if you’re scared of the wild,’ sings Frida, and, after hearing this, you believe she will be there for her subject though trouble or wonder-filled times. In the closing third of this number, Touray’s vocal prowess is extended, and her voice cuts across the strong accompaniment with power and purity of tone.
‘Mending’ is a song of redemption, freedom, and joyful recovery after all the trials of love and life. Her voice blends perfectly with the ensemble at times, and her solo lines are beautiful, warm, and emotive.
This EP is a discovery – Frida Touray is a discovery, and the reasons behind the time it has taken for her to decide to take her spot in the limelight remain hers alone, but the fact of the matter is the choice was a good one, and she will be a welcome addition to solo artists, who we shall hear more of in the future.
Released on E2 Music, Edition Records’ new boundary-busting imprint, the label says about this recording, “the emotional brilliance and production of ‘Mending’ stands testament to a creative artist who’s worked with the best, knows what she wants, and is ready to tell the world. She is an artist with a personal story and voice to die for, who wants to make her mark as a distinct and creative singer-songwriter.” This reviewer couldn’t agree more.
Photo credit: Christopher Hargreaves.