Charles Frail is an Amsterdam-based singer of suites and serenades. As a youngster, it was old rock & roll that was luring at his soul. After years of pleading, his mother finally gave in and promised to give him an electric guitar. But on one condition: in exchange for the electric guitar he would have to be able to perform ten songs on a ‘hopf filigrana’, an acoustic guitar that had been a heirloom of some sort. Frail soon fell in love with this instrument, the electric guitar was anon forgotten. Withal, he came to realize that he was unable to sing given songs without altering them unrecognizably; that writing his own songs came easier to him than performing songs of others. He would later dedicate his first work to his mother (the self-released EP “My Mother the Great”) as an offering of gratitude.
With ‘My Mother the Great’ Charles Frail performed in most of the renowned concert venues in the Netherlands: Paradiso (small and main hall), De Melkweg, Patronaat, Hedon, 013, Effenaar, Vera; as a support act for Architecture in Helsinki, Micah P. Hinson (‘endearing performance’, VPRO 3voor12), Joan as Police Woman and Daniel Johnston (!). For VPRO 3voor12 he did showcases at Noorderslag/Eurosonic (as part of the Amsterdam Songwriters Guild), Motel Mozaique, he was Hollandse Nieuwe (monthly Dutch promising artist), was a guest for the 3voor12.tv (broadcast on Dutch national television) as up and coming artist for 2008 and represented ‘folk’ for 3voor12’s music icons project. He did a series of living room concerts in Belgium, one time opening for Josh T. Pearson, toured in Norway twice where he was announced as: “en stemme fra en annen verden” (a voice from another world).
On his contribution to the Amsterdam Songwriters Guild compilation, folkforum wrote: ‘the most remarkable is perhaps Charles Frail … Intriguing, fragile, intimate and someone to watch’. On the final song of ‘My Mother the Great’ Kindamuzik wrote: ‘He’s got better things for you’ is the last song of the record. A folktraditional that Frail found on Harry Smith’s Anthology of Folk. In this impressive song Frail’s vocals reach unprecedented fragile heights’.
Frail took his time to work on his debut record and ended up writing three full-length works. He shuns song structures used by most contemporary songwriters in his compositions and instead tries to make every record a single work in its own right. This arduous task that most would shy away from in his hands becomes a lucid approach towards song making in his hands.
Charles Frail’s presents now ‘Morning, it Breathes’. This record is the first part of a triptych of which ‘Mirror River’ and ‘City Fire’ form the subsequent parts.
On ‘Morning, it Breathes” Frail tries to capture the tranquil dynamics of dawn, the interplay of slumber and sleep, the strange ways a dream can take when you wake up and fall back asleep over and over again. The morning world – that, as if draped in a cloak of sleep, is never seen by so many – on this record is emblematic of all that gives birth, rejuvenates and redeems.
The first 500 copies of ‘Morning, it Breathes’ are entirely handmade by Charles Frail. He bought a sewing machine and a hundred meters of cheesecloth, asked the lady who owned the sewing machine shop to teach him the ropes and ended up making a work of art that in its authenticity beautifully befits his music. All in all, a wonderful acquisition to the already versatile VOLKOREN company