Release date: 25th June
I’m in my slippers typing this so it makes sense (or is it a coincidence?) that this album was on top of the pile. I’m in a dressing gown as well but that doesn’t really matter. That’s a story for another day. This is the story that matters: Foreign Slippers is the brainchild of Gabi Froden – a woman whose creativity is the same size as Everest, The Great Wall of China, Finland, etc etc. You get the drift. She’s a singer, an artist, an author, and a songwriter who started singing in the church choir in Norrkoping in Sweden – where she’s from – and via covers of Tom Petty and Pavement in her early bands, she’s reached the crossroads where she’s at today. Probably sat at the crossroads typing maniacally as another blast of creativity surges through her, or perhaps even sat there looking smug as hell because that amount of creativity, for most of us, will never come. These crossroads are, of course, Foreign Slippers.
As we all know, with creativity comes imagination in bucketloads. This is no different to Froden, who’s created a fantastical world where it’d be akin to walking through an opiate-filled dream where the landscape unfolds like turning the pages of a storybook, while flocks of shimmering birds caw and swoop overhead and above forests filled with an array of creatures of the imagination, mocking peasants and mercurial musicians. All this while a bewitching voice swirls around and into you, lullabying you into walking through that never-ending world until the album’s over but you’ve walked too far and can’t find your way back. So you press play. Or you should, anyway. Otherwise you’ll be stuck in that world forever, which wouldn’t be a bad thing but someone’s got to put bread on the table, haven’t they?
Froden is also an accomplished children’s book illustrator and she writes music for theatre projects, most recently the Lalla Diallo production Hold Everything Dear, which was chosen to be performed at the Royal Opera House in London. She’s not a stranger to hardwork, and obviously knows how to tread the path that leads to imagination becoming reality and this is clear when you listen to the evokingly named Farewell To The Old Ghosts.
The opening track, It All Starts Now, entangles a softly swaying guitar with Froden’s soothing and warm vocals. As the track progresses the air that sways the guitar is pushed and gathered by a frowning gust of wind, which lets the track open up more and a beat nudges its way in, allowing the listener to realise that the album is going to be a maelstrom of different directions and diversity. The lyrics of It all starts now, which Froden repeats to end the track, will have you singing along and blocking out the real world and imagining the world that Froden has strove to create.
Avalanche kicks in with a rhythmical, sassy drumbeat which conjures images of Froden sauntering around the stage, holding the audience captive with the alluring beat that punctures through her velvet, heartfelt vocals. The delicately strummed guitar adds a more vintage aspect to the track; couple this with the noir-like piano and you’re almost in a black-and-white romance movie. If she’s ever been heartbroken then this track hints at that – the line of I can’t tell if I ever really knew you well will surely resonate with male and female listeners alike. Froden taps into your psyche with this track and refuses to leave until you physically shake her out. Possibly the strongest track on the album.
Dead Inside shows a moodier side to the album. The juddering, staccato beat and Froden’s sleepy vocals generate plumes of ruby-coloured daydreams where the day is too much to bear and you just want to lock away the light and drain the hours away in solitude.
The last track, When You Feel The Fear, is an atmospheric, binding song that finishes the album significantly. The vocals are like an entity soaring and fastening itself around you, while the plush, deep tones of the piano embed their way into your heart and mind like writing your name in wet sand. It may be a sombre, melancholy track but it doesn’t depress in any way at all – acts more like a swirling snowglobe of creativity just waiting to be smashed and let out.
Farewell To The Old Ghosts is an album that takes you to a different place, a place where reality meets imagination and where creativity merges into determination and success. Buy the album and if you do, get a physical copy because it can be folded out and in again, to make itself look like a typewriter. Different, innovate and impressive. And that’s not just aimed at the folding album. It’s a great start to what should be a very promising career for Froden.