If you were not part of the sold out crowd at Dallas' House of Blues on Wednesday night, it's entirely possible you missed the next big thing in music -- and you would missed seeing it inside a great, intimate venue.
Brooke Fraser, known to millions as part of Christian music's Hillsong United, brought her North American tour through Texas this week in support of her second solo release, "Albertine." Fraser was supported by the very talented singer/songwriter William Fitzsimmons, who not only garnered new fans with his opening set, but joined Fraser on stage for her encore performance.
To the millions of Hillsong United fans, Fraser needs no introduction. However, others, myself included, were introduced to her along with brazenly drawn comparisons to legendary songstresses Sarah McLachlan and The Sundays' Harriet Wheeler, among others.
Of the comparisons, I was skeptical. However, after listening to "Albertine," neither of the comparisons are without merit and I wouldn't recommend anyone who is a fan of either Wheeler or McLachlan to miss Fraser's show.
After listening to her music, it is obvious from where Fraser draws her inspiration. In songs such as "C.S. Lewis Song," "Hosea's Wife," and "Faithful," Fraser directly engages God in a very casual, conversational manner while avoiding what might be an incredibly obvious and repetitive, yet tempting cliches.
For example, in "Faithful," Fraser poignantly describes an aspect of the unfailing faith that many Christians share -- that an omnipresent God is always listening and working on your behalf despite the fact that the follower may still feel lost and alone.
When I can't feel you
I have learned to reach out just the same
When I can't hear you
I know you still hear every word I pray
Or, take this line from "C.S. Lewis Song:"
And I, I was made to live
I was made to love
I was made to know you In short, she is a great writer who knows her way around a lyric and has proven rather adept at getting people humming and singing along to some very inspirational tunes.
Occasionally, Fraser does grow beyond her penchant for singing about the relationship between a soul and its creator in favor of more terrestrial, Man vs. Man subject matter. Delving further into "Albertine," one learns that the name of the title track is borrowed from an orphan Rwandan child Fraser encountered on a recent trip to the country where she met her sponsor children.
Fraser said the trip had such a profound impact on her that many of the songs on "Albertine" were colored with the spirit of that trip. In the title track, Fraser promises to tell the world of what she has seen and learned from the survivors in a country where nearly 1 million people lost their lives to genocide. Additionally, she said she would use whatever means she had, and in this case her music and appeal as an artist, to draw attention to those in need.
During her set Wednesday, Fraser took a liberal amount of time explaining her passion for helping those who are struggling in other parts of the world and challenged every member of the audience to do the same.
Fraser said that beginning on the next leg of her tour she will be partnered at each venue with World Vision, a Christian relief, development and advocacy organization whose purpose is to create lasting change in the lives of children, families and communities living in poverty. At each of the shows, audience members will have the opportunity to make a donation or adopt a sponsor child.
Since 2002, Fraser has been signed to a major label and enjoyed multi-platinum success with both of her solo releases while winning a host of awards for her writing and singing in both her native New Zealand and her adopted home of Sydney, Australia. I think it's a pretty safe bet to say Fraser's "Albertine" will make several top albums of the year lists, including my own. Her show at the House of Blues was a very lively, fun set and she should not be missed the next time she ventures heads to North Texas from Australia.
On The Web:
Web site: BrookeFraser.com
Web site: Brooke Fraser's MySpace Page
Web site: William Fitzsimmons's MySpace Page
Web site: Ticketmaster