There are a select few artists in any music fan’s life that can capture something within them, so immediately and ardently, that the listener becomes hooked before the end of that very first song. I had listened to all of one verse of Lost Without You before I decided the Freya Ridings was irrevocably going to be one of these artists for me.
A BRIT school graduate and daughter of actor and musician Richard Ridings, Freya Ridings has the background of a star in the making. Having released her debut single, Blackout in May 2017, she then released a deeply loved cover as her next single, Maps, a cover of the legendary Yeah Yeah Yeahs that has garnered over one million streams on Spotify since it’s release in June 2017. In September 2017, she then released her debut live album Live at St Pancras Old Church, a wonderfully reverb-filled, ambient album.
After releasing the album she went on to her first full headline tour in the UK and spent the rest of 2017 supporting the likes of Tears for Fears, and Lewis Capaldi. She then released Lost Without You on 3 November 2017, which peaked at number 9 in the UK Singles Chart, after being featured on the reality show Love Island. It was subsequently chosen by Scott Mills’ as his ‘Tune of the Week’ on Radio 1. She released her second live album, Live at Omeara on 30 March 2018.
Her gig at Rescue Rooms in Nottingham was her first in the city, a small and humble affair in comparison to the first night of her tour, which had been at the Shepherds Bush Empire. That being said, I do not believe this at all diminishes the power with which Ridings can fill a room with atmosphere.
When I first saw her play, it was early this year at the Union Chapel in Islington on her first tour and while it is quite contrast in terms of venue, I principally noticed that the songs have grown in their production value as much as her confidence has grown in her performance.
She plays with such reverent earnest and gentle youthfulness, with songs mostly about the yearning of youthful heartache (Lost Without You) and the triumph of realising that you deserve better (Castles).
The majority of Ridings’ music is, thus far, unreleased other than in live performance recording format, as her studio album is eagerly awaited. It is therefore a true testament to the infectiousness of her soulful voice and relatable writing that quite a number of the audience seemed to know the words to every song.
She opened her show at Rescue Rooms with Love is Fire, a bold and paced song that sticks in your head and truly showcases the power in Ridings’ voice, followed by You Mean The World to Me, which Ridings confessed she always liked to dedicate to her mother, whom she informed the crowd is a Midlands native. She parted with her piano only long enough for Unconditional, her only song so far played on the guitar, which she proclaims to be one of her ‘few happy love songs’. She then, of course, also played the very first song she ever released, Blackout, along with Maps and a lesser played song she wrote called Holy Water.
Her most known track after its television and radio attention, Lost Without You, was received to a round of cheers, followed by one crowd member’s cry of “Congratulations on your Top 10!” Ridings, humbly, seemed baffled that someone in a city in which she had never played before would know about the fact her single had made it to Number 9 on the charts.
She parted with her most recent single, Ultraviolet, which is now performed with wonderful layered harmonies, all which hinting at the potentially richly layered debut album that is in the making.
For millennia, journalists and artists alike have been trying to pick apart and replicate what precisely it is that gives some music that tangible thing to it, while the rest fades back into the mental filing cabinet titled ‘One Hit Wonders’, and I do not for one minute claim to have an answer. All I know is, after watching Ridings at her piano multiple times now, listening to the honesty of her songwriting, I am certain that, whatever this tangible thing is, Freya Ridings has it.
Freya Ridings’ single LOST WITHOUT YOU is out now via Good Soldier Songs.
Live Review by India Meade, photography by Ruby Gaunt of Freya Ridings at Rescue Rooms, Nottingham on 19th October 2018