Saturday 27th August 2011. I’m sitting outside the Stage Door of Queen’s Theatre after experiencing Les Miserables for the first time. It was mind blowing, and I remember being particularly impressed by the gentleman who was playing Javert at the time, a gentleman named Hadley Fraser. As he walked by, I came over shy and didn’t call out to him, but a lady nearby sensed my reaction and very gently steered him back in my direction. I’m eternally grateful that she did; it marked the beginning of a part of my life and many friendships that I now treasure most dearly. Aside from being a wonderful performer, Hadley is one of the warmest, funniest and most genuinely kind souls I’ve met, so I’m always incredibly proud to go and support him whenever I’m able, and today he’s given me another reason to be proud: the release of his debut EP: Just Let Go.
Five original tracks are here, and though I was familiar with each having heard them at Hadley’s various concerts, I was amazed at first listen; it was like hearing them all over again and falling in love once more. I’ve always loved the warm and rich quality of his voice, but what struck me here was how strong and efforless he sounded, wether it be his lower range or soaring falsetto. Hadley handles lead acoustic guitar and lead vocals, but not content with gracing us purely with his own talent, he is joined by his equally wonderful fiancée Rosalie Craig (Vocals) Tom Deering, (Keys/ Arrangements) Nick Pini (Double Bass) John Gregson (Banjo, Dobro, Electric Guitar, Mandolin, Acoustic Guitar), Reuben Humphries (Drums)
Jess Murphy (Violin) and Simon Munday (Trumpet & Piccolo Trumpet). The upshot of putting everyone together? A wonderfully mellow, beautifully folky vibe that is a joy from start to finish. Harmonies and lyrics are beautiful across the board, but if you pushed me to select a favourite track: I’d go with But For Me, I have the most intense goosebumps and the lyrics touch me deeply. I talk a lot whenever I see Hadley perform live about how he seems to have this uncanny knack of making me believe completely and utterly in whatever he sings when I watch him, because his of his ability to tell the story behind the lyrics, not just sing them. I was struck by the intensity with which I got this same feeling just sitting here listening. I could close my eyes and just feel like I was in the moment with him, wherever he was in his mind when he was putting pen to paper to write these songs, and for me, that’s an incredibly special place to be. Do yourselves a favour and go hear for yourselves why I rave about this gent so much. I promise you, you won’t be disappointed.