Take a white knuckle ride through the eyes and mind of Princess Freesia laying all of her anxieties, insecurities and innermost mental health battles bare to an emotional, haunting and heartfelt musical soundtrack by Soulpersona who weaves soul, raregroove and jazz funk arrangements into the complex narrative.
Life is a game as is the life of an independent musician. The album was made in a minimal studio, which is essentially a spare room in their flat. It was recorded and composed using only headphones so as not to wake the neighbours baby. The album was funded by their supporters through crowdfunding where they managed to reach (and exceed) their target in just 28 days.
Review by Duncan Payne (Blues & Soul Magazine Columnist)
"If you are reading this there is every chance that you have – or have been close to someone who has – suffered from mental health problems. We have come a long way in recent times and what was once a taboo subject is now talked about, to some extent. Yet there is still a lot of ignorance, suicide rates remain shockingly high, and the pressures of modern day living can take their toll on anyone. Many people struggle just to get through the day. You don’t want to bother anyone, do you? People are so busy these days. There’s always someone worse off...
Brighton-based Soulpersona and Princess Freesia have been making some fine music for the past decade. They are both extremely talented individuals in their own right and a listen to any of their previous recordings proves just how good they are. When they come together, however, the standards rise higher still. They bring out the best in each other. So, as my finger hovered above the mouse, about to click ‘play’, I had feelings of great anticipation and trepidation too. Could their fifth album together stand up against their previous collaborations? And then, there’s the subject matter too. This could get real heavy. Let ‘The Game’ begin.
Freesia has always been a clever and imaginative lyricist, and when it comes to singing, she has always had a soulful delivery with a style that borders on jazz. Listening to ‘The Game’ I realise just how banal and uninformative that previous statement sounds. On this album Freesia lays her very soul bare. Only someone who has experienced the darkest times, battling acute anxiety and personal insecurities, could possibly have written the words she sings. Vulnerable on occasions, at other times anguished, Freesia relives her journey through the darkness until the sun finally begins to poke its head through the dense clouds.
Enter Soulpersona, the musician and producer who knows her so well. He provides the perfect soundscape, his production being far from minimalist but it’s also clutter-free, which allows Freesia to take centre stage. Unlike a number of his peers who attempt to make carbon copies when going for a retro vibe, Soulpersona’s music is thoroughly contemporary while taking an affectionate nod back at great music of bygone times. Disco-soul and jazz-funk for the 21st century! And that is the genius at play in ‘The Game’. It makes the theme of the album accessible to all. The songs can be played in any environment. Whether the music is played In a club, on the radio, at home or in the car, Freesia’s messages get across. Had the music been too sombre, it may have been too difficult to deal with, but Soulpersona’s sympathetic and sophisticated production on a collection of up-tempo and mid-tempo tunes demands that people listen.
Soulpersona, as you may expect, called upon a trio of tried and trusted musicians who know exactly where he’s at. Carl Hudson delights on the Fender Rhodes, Marcus Porter lays down some meaty bass lines and the gorgeous guitar licks come courtesy of Terry Lewis. Freesia, for her part, not only sings lead but performs the soothing multi-layered omnipresent backing harmonies. Between them they lay down the quality grooves, each of which grow on you and take on a deeper meaning with each play. Understandably, if only because the tune is the most instant, the chunky ‘When Yoiu’re Broke’ is the lead single but every one of Freesia’s songs are essential listening. If forced to choose my personal favourites they’d be the candid ‘Self Destruct’, the cry for help ‘Lifeline’ and the lilting swayer ‘New Paradise’ where she shares her dreams of a brighter tomorrow, an optimistic finale on the set. Well, the finale as far as Freesia is concerned.
The very last of the eleven tracks is an instrumental reprise of ‘When You’re Broke’ (Only available on the Bandcamp digital version) which is completely transformed by Terry Lewis’ euphoric electric guitar solo that lets you know in no uncertain terms that she is in a much better place than she was.
Recording ‘The Game’ was, I daresay, an emotionally draining experience, and when the project – through no fault of their own – came close to being terminated a matter of weeks before it was completed that experience would have been magnified. Sheer will power and the goodwill of others ensured the album was accomplished. It would have been a travesty if the project had been shelved indefinitely. Under normal circumstances, I would usually advise the curious to give it a try, but this is no ordinary album. Owning a copy should be made compulsory.'
Review below by - Chris Wells (Echoes Magazine)
'Soulperona & Princess Freesia have just released a new album. The Game - Theit fifth together - that’s bursting with top grooves and great musical ideas. Which is probably just as well, since the subject matter for Freesia’s lyrics is mental (ill-) health, and she dives into it with such honesty things really do get dark at times. The Way they’ve framed it, however, probably means that moist people hearing this music are likely to be drawn in initially by the funky vibrancy before ever realising what the lyrics are actually about. It always was a powerful and subtle way of getting your message across. Created entirely in their flat (with headphones on, so as not to piss of their neighbours) it really couldn’t be more intimate and yet so irresistibly prone to get you on your feet. Standouts for me are maybe the pulsingly scary ‘Self Destruct’ and funky-yet-funked-up ‘To The Bone’, but, honestly, you could press play on any of these tunes and find quality thought and performance.'