Freda D’Souza’s new EP Windowledge was recorded and mixed at home which, far from being rough around the edges, has added an intimacy and sense of calm from recording these modern folk songs in familiar surroundings. Given that the EP “explores the trials of intimate relationships (both friendship and romantic love)” having a safe space to work these things out is great advantage.

Freda D’Souza says: “It took me a while to gather songs and record them in a way that I liked. I always ended up in these studios with older men and I would feel so tense and end up with a recording I was completely unhappy with. As well as this, I never felt any need to record my songs as I could listen to them in my head at any time – the songs already existed to me as living entities. Since 2020, I have been exploring the ways I could use demo recording to capture a space that would add to the song, as well as capturing a time span.”

‘Julian’ has intimate moments that make you feel you are almost in D’Souza’s skin right up until you are pulled out of the small moment with sublime washes of harmonies that are so audacious, they take you aback the first time you hear them. The title track appears out of the crackle of rain on a window, with the guitar, vocals and minimal strings rolling and tumbling like the rain itself. ‘The Love Song of J Alfreda D’Souza’ feels like floating in her subconscious and has the quality of songs by Joni Mitchell or Judee Sill in the effortless way the vocals move around the octaves. ‘Inconsistency’ is a tiny gem of a song, with under two minutes of dreamlike harmonies, sliding strings and spoken word. The final track ‘He Is My Peace’ moves from the simplicity of just guitar and voice, to a swirling, understated gospel song centred around the repetition of the word “everything” which climbs higher and higher in exultation before the almost plaintive end of Freda’s unadorned voice saying “he is a child in my arms, bring him no harm.

What could have been a clash of ideas, or where stylistic choices could have been stifled by those ‘older men’ in the studio, has not happened. There is a beauty and freedom in the recording and production that has enhanced the core of this EP which is D’Souza’s exceptional songwriting. Everything is held by the brittle perfection of D’Souza’s voice which can breathe out a line, add asymmetric vibrato or climb through the octaves with purpose and power. The autonomy of the home recording process has allowed a sense of personal truth to be woven through the songs creating the musical equivalent of a terrarium; a perfect inner world.

Freda D’Souza socials: Instagram | Bandcamp

Review by Paul F Cook

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