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Busy Guy Image
Metascore
84

Universal acclaim - based on 5 Critic Reviews What's this?

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  • Summary: The first full-length release in 14 years for the British singer-songwriter was produced by Dan Carey.
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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 5
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 5
  3. Negative: 0 out of 5
  1. Jul 20, 2021
    90
    A dazzling display of technical and emotional virtuosity, ‘Busy Guy’ is an incredible experience, a work of true intimacy from a songwriter whose return is long overdue. Magical.
  2. Jul 20, 2021
    90
    What makes Busy Guy extraordinary is its scorched-earth intimacy. Fretwell’s voice rarely rises above a whisper; his guitar playing consists largely of skeletal fugues so minimalistic it’s as if they are barely there at all. Yet oceans of pain and lifetimes of regret are packed into an LP that hooks a cable to the listener’s soul and cranks the voltage all the way up.
  3. Mojo
    Jul 20, 2021
    80
    Capturing his bad life choices, regrets and hopes at their most immediate. [Aug 2021, p.84]
  4. Jul 20, 2021
    73
    This is a delicately sincere and softly stark album, and arguably Fretwell’s best. It’s certainly his most intimate, but after all that time away, he’s no doubt figured out exactly how he wanted to say what he wants to.
  5. 70
    Don’t be fooled by the dry, lilting manner of delivery behind these tracks - each one holds up to close inspection and there is charm to be found in them all.
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 1
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 1
  3. Negative: 0 out of 1
  1. Jul 26, 2021
    8
    One might be tempted to recall the lead character in Nick Hornby’s superlative novel ‘About a Boy’ when thinking of what Fretwell’s living /One might be tempted to recall the lead character in Nick Hornby’s superlative novel ‘About a Boy’ when thinking of what Fretwell’s living / working situation might have been of late. A whopping fourteen years have elapsed since his second and most recent album, during which time he faded into as close to pure obscurity as could possibly be in this ultra-connected age. He simply vanished. The afore-mentioned fictional character lived a comfortable existence off the royalties of his late father’s novelty Christmas hit. Perhaps Fretwell has been able to get by without actually creating new music by virtue of his gorgeous early track ‘Run’ being the theme tune to the perennially popular BBC sitcom Gavin and Stacey. Perhaps not. The surely ironic title of the album suggests that either way, the 2010s were not an especially productive time for the singer-songwriter.
    Whilst millions of people have heard that track, the rest of Fretwell’s relatively catalogue remains unknown by the masses. Those who do know him will know that his is a melancholy and tender output, introspective and understated, graceful and literate – in many ways he would have fitted in well with the so-called New Acoustic movement circa 2000, that gave us the likes of Turin Brakes and Tom McRae, but alas he was a few years too late. His sublime third album continues in that tradition.

    So what’s in the bag? Nothing here is likely to garner him another theme tune accolade (although by all accounts he was highly reluctant to let ‘Run’ be used in that way anyway – no one could ever accuse Fretwell of chasing the dollar). The song with the most instant charm and appeal – but again, we are not talking radio friendly indie pop here, so buyer beware – is ‘Embankment’. ‘The Long Water’ is also lovely, but bears more than a passing resemblance to Cat Stevens’ ‘Wild World’. The second half of the album, rather intriguingly, consists of one-word song titles named after colours - ‘Orange’, ‘Pink’, ‘Copper’, ‘Almond’ and ‘Green’. If anything other than the names connects them, it’s not immediately obvious. The highlight of that song suite – and indeed my overall highlight – is the rather skew-whiff ‘Pink’. Like the rest of the album, a rather dark, largely conventional acoustic number – only with a light asynchronous electronic beat that wafts in and out at irregular intervals. It’s peculiar, but my goodness it’s gorgeous.
    Here’s hoping, then, that this is not a brief return before another long hiatus, but rather the start of a more regular flow of material from this most reclusive of artists.
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