Eleanor Friedburger Is A Late-Blooming Artist To Watch

Eleanor Friedburger is one of those artists with obvious talent who has shown flashes of brilliance but hasn’t quite put it all together yet. Many of those artists never do. But this single from her upcoming fourth album is so good it suggests she may finally be ready for prime time, and I would say it is about time.

At age 41 she’s a late bloomer, but Friedburger has paid her dues and is carving out a distinctive and plausibly successful career arc. She first came on the scene in 2003 in The Fiery Furnaces – alongside her older brother Matthew – a band that through seven albums proved to be too creative for their own good. Theirs was a strange arty journey fusing folk, Rock, electronica and prog, sometimes all in the same song, that was just too far out there for radio and too unfocused for critics.

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After The Furnaces disbanded in 2011, Friedburger toned down the wild eclecticism for her solo career, but maintained her aptitudes for strikingly original chord changes and song structures and for smart, honest and catchy lyrics. She’s also got a great voice that gets stronger with each album, falling tonally somewhere between Natalie Merchant and that chick from Everything But The Girl, delivering warmth and strength at the same time.

Friedburger’s last album, 2016’s New View, was backed up by a folk-rocky type of band, but the new single “In Between Stars” takes a new direction towards more synthesized sounds, and perhaps the spared-down production helps the quality of her songwriting shine even more. In a press release announcing the single she calls it “an homage to 80’s dark goth pop”, but it doesn’t sound much like the 80’s to me, and it certainly isn’t goth or dark either.

But it definitely is pop of the high-end variety, and if this is the direction Friedburger is taking her big talents it could very well lead to some bigger things for her, and to some original, literate and catchy pop for the rest of us to discover.

Photo credit: By Greg Neate from Sussex, UK (Fiery Furnaces at Audio) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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