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Appreciation for Thomas Fraser

This page features a brief sample of what people have said about Thomas Fraser. Rather than simply list the numerous quotes that have been published over the years, we will feature previously published comments from an individual source and refresh it regularly.

This month, we look at comments from Ray Templeton of Musical Traditions:

"You can marshall all of the arguments as to why Thomas Fraser became the artist he did, and you can attempt to rationalise what made him avoid the trap of mere copyist that so many British country and blues singers have fallen into - his own traditional roots, the high standards of his audience, his unstinting hard work, his close knowledge, deep love and respect for the music - but in the end the truth is that it isn't something that admits of explanation.  What accounts for the particular power of these recordings is something that he had that we can never rationalise.  It seems likely that there were many people around the UK who came at these musical sources in the same way, but there is little evidence that many of them made music of the depth and passion, of the peculiar intensity, that Thomas Fraser did.

In a blindfold test, even the most devoted fan of old timey music might well be fooled into thinking that they're hearing a previously unknown recording from a field session in Memphis or Atlanta, circa 1935.  But that in itself is no guarantee of anything.  Thomas Fraser never sounds exactly like Rodgers or Williams, or whoever - he would be much less interesting if he did.  He is special because of something that is quite separate from the reproduction of style - he sounds like the real thing, for the simple reason that he is.

Without hearing the recordings, you might feel inclined to assume that this is all so much hyperbole, fuelled by the romantic tale of the long-lost tapes and the family's determination to get them heard - how could an obscure fisherman and crofter from the remote Burra Isle, who died so long ago, completely unknown outside of his local community, suddenly attract such overwhelming praise?  Then you hear the music, and it doesn't seem surprising any more.

The result is a music of such depth and intensity that it transcends geographical boundaries, and seems to mock all the debates about authenticity."

Also see http://www.mustrad.org.uk/reviews/fraser.htm for Ray's reviews of the first three Thomas Fraser albums and http://www.mustrad.org.uk/reviews/fraser2.htm for the fourth.


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