Single Review: Brooke Fraser – ‘Betty’

“At times you do feel a trifle more instrumental potency would lift the song out of the pedestrian pace it often assumes”

3 STARS

Digital Release: June 5, 2011

Physical Release: July 10, 2011

To those of us who aren’t yet acquainted with the delightful pop-peddler Brooke Fraser, allow me to first introduce her. Brooke is Australian, and released her début album in 2004, her second in 2006, and her third late in 2010. ‘Betty’ is the second single from that third album (‘Flags’) after the wonderfully summery lead single ‘Something In The Water’. After achieving much success in her native land, an exploration of the UK market was needed.

Alas, her presence in the UK came quite a few years too late, as Brooke’s quirky pop/rock style had long been out of fashion by 2010 – her UK-based musical congruents such as Katie Melua and Corrine Bailey-Rae – both of whom released albums last year – found out the hard way that the musical landscape had shifted and so did the media’s focus of attention, which left their style and genre decidedly out of view of the newer, contemporary landscape, which comprises of debauched urban electropop and is still lingering like a bad odour over our charts.

But that’s not to say ‘Betty’ isn’t a easy-listening piece of enjoyable summer pop at all – that’s exactly what it is. At times you do feel a trifle more instrumental potency would lift the song out of the pedestrian pace it often assumes, but nonetheless, ‘Betty’ remains a typical Brooke Fraser affair in that, alongside the free whimsicality and her soft – even weak – vocals, there’s a connotation of satirical humour in every line.

‘Betty’ speaks of a woman who’s wears a deceiving façade of self-indulgent complacency, so much so that she wonders why she is forced into these affectations and shallow emotions; she is blinded by the basic human requirements of love, livelihood solidarity and even conversation is overlooked by dear ‘Betty’; “You are no-one’s daughter and a drunk man’s wife/If a wife at all/It’s a silly institution/Or so you keeping insisting”. 

Brooke’s strengths stay loyal and composed against the contrastingly poor production, which as aforementioned, is pleasant enough but lacks the power and innovation to fully impress in the way her shrewd wordplay do. And ‘Betty’, in retrospect, is undoubtedly a very clever song which themes you wouldn’t expect to hear from today’s current crop of celebrated ‘talent’, and if more of a departure or at least, an exploration of a sound that hadn’t died a death nearly five years ago, Brooke could be looking at success outside of Australia and New Zealand.

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