For those of you who don’t already know, Fryars is the alter-ego of 24 year-old London-based singer Benjamin Garrett. From his humble beginnings making beats in his bedroom during his adolescence, Garrett went on to release his debut album ‘Young Dark Hearts’ back in 2009, which received critical acclaim. Fast-forward five years, and Garrett has now just released his second ‘Power’, which includes already released singles ‘Love so Cold’ and ‘In My Arms’. After a considerable time away, Garrett has recently made up for lost time, not only by releasing a new album, but touring with London Grammar and co-writing songs for Lily Allen’s newest album ‘Sheezus’.
More recently Fryars supported Allen at The Brighton Centre. One of the main purposes of a support act is usually to set the tone for the upcoming main event, and unfortunately. In this respect, the tone in general was slightly different. Where Allen usually has a bubbly (albeit slightly dark feel to her music) Fryers seemed more preoccupied in proving himself as an electro-balladeer supreme than realising that this approach might have been slightly amiss.
While there is no denying Garrett does have talent as a producer and is an excellent songwriter, but his performance seemed to fail in setting the audience alight. The main problem was the majority of his set was, quite frankly, a bit too slow, and at times, a tad depressing. Not really the type of vibe you would want to except when going to a Lily Allen concert. Between her and previous performing act Lolawolf, Garrett’s set-list stuck out like a sore thumb due to the inability for anyone to really be able to dance to his songs.
Having said that, Garrett’s latest album is actually makes for pretty good listening. His songs are predominantly a collective of smooth synth-pop, with a pleasant, relaxed vibe that is quite pleasing to the ears. Conveying this into a live performance is tricky task, so it is understandable it may not have been appreciated in the same way as the other acts. On the positive side, Fryars’ performance of certain songs does have redeemable qualities, for example ‘On Your Own’ has a beautiful, melancholic notion to it that speaks out to people. ‘In My Arms’ equally has an endearing quality to it, and it’s easy to see why these two songs were released early, and received general praise. ‘Prettiest ones that fly highest’ had a slightly more upbeat and positive feel to it, in fact, if most of his set went in conjunction with this, then the outcome would have been another story.
Overall Fryars isn’t a bad artist, his sound may not be to everyone’s taste, but he does truly have potential to be an interesting and engaging singer-songwriter. While his performance wasn’t totally compelling, it was probably due to the fact he’d taken the wrong approach, and gone a different direction to the other two acts. While there is certainly room for improvement, he shouldn’t be written off as a lost cause.
Fryars album ‘Power’ is available now.