As one of the most prominent producers and songwriters in the music industry, Fraser T Smith knows his chops when it comes to making a great record. The Grammy and Ivor Novello award- winning musician has worked with the likes of Adele, Stormzy, James Morrison and Gorillaz to name but a few.
However, there comes a time to strike out on your own and for Fraser, the time is now. It comes in the shape of his debut collaborative concept album ’12 Questions’ under the artist name Future Utopia.
The album which features a wide-ranging collection of poets, musicians, spoken-word artists, actors amongst others which includes Idris Elba, Arlo Parks, Kano, Mikky Ekko, Tom Grennan & Tia Carys, Simon Armitage, Bastille and of course Smith’s old pal Stormzy is a reflective and impressive body of work.
Ruminating on a series of universal questions that we all strive to learn the answer to, Fraser asks the question to each of the different collaborators on the album. From environmental issues and gang violence to technology and diversity, each of the ’12 Questions’ are asked across a series of 22 tracks. Each track provides the opportunity for the listener to ruminate and perhaps offer their own interpretation or answer.
Idris Elba takes the reins in ‘Fear Or Faith? and talks of how ‘fear makes good rational people do crazy things and even crazier things to justify the first part’
Not all tracks feature the spoken word, Bastille sings on the synth-orientated track ‘What’s In A Name’ which talks of how a name can formulate a huge part of your identity and how people perceive you. "Too many sleepless nights lying awake from it / Some people roll their eyes just from hearing it" - Kano questions the issue of lockdown and freedom and if we are really free at all, when we are anchored by possessions and routine. "Alarm clocks kill dreams while our children sleep" and "What is freedom? It’s microphone for me, so I can flow with reason..."
‘How Do We Find Our Truth’ is a piano-led emotional track about gang violence featuring Stormzy and Beatrice Mushiya bravely speaking about her son Duran who was tragically murdered in 2016. This stirring and powerful track will resonate with anyone who has lost a loved one and is the perfect musical conclusion to an impressive debut album which will both enlighten and entertain.
Words: Emma Harrison
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