In 2012, some artists share their every parp without exercising any quality control. Fellow musicians and acolytes might be interested in the eleventh draft of that remix, or the beat cooked up on your iPad during a prolonged stretch on the throne, but this outpouring of outtakes often demystifies the music and artist to the fans, devaluing their name in the process. Upon receipt of Princess Freesia’s The Hoxxxy Demos (a prequel to her debut album, coming later this year), I was concerned that I might have to sit through an embarrassing set of one-dimensional tracks that only a mother could love. After all, they’re labeled ‘demos’ for a reason, right?
Recorded over eight years, The Hoxxxy Demos presents the sound of an artist grappling with the mystical tools of music making and delivering some undeniably soulful nuggets in the process. Armed only with a MacBook, a deep bag of soul and a wad of determination, Princess Freesia has emerged from the lab brandishing fourteen stellarsonic tunes that belie their humble origins. The Hoxxy Demos, however, isn’t simply the sound of an artist finding her voice. That big-voiced, chameleon-like, vocal shifter, Princess Freesia, is centre-stage from the get-go, generously peppering each and every track with lashings of soul and charisma. Indeed, it sounds like Freesia’s magnetic personality was locked in place from day one, as demonstrated via the earlier boogie grooves of Got Me Started On It and Sexy, right through to later jams such as the steamy Lay D, Se7en and a surprisingly stirring rework of the old Isley Brothers gem, Between The Sheets. In addition to strong songwriting and innovative arrangements, Freesia’s character permeates each and every track, lifting the material above humble demo status.
Check the Official advert for The Hoxxxy Demos
The Hoxxxy Demos was mainly recorded at home, with all vocals (Freesia takes both lead and background chores) captured by the built-in mic of her battered MacBook. Freesia wrote, produced, programmed, arranged and played on all tracks. And she’s nothing less than engaging as a vocalist throughout The Hoxxxy Demos; unafraid to experiment with tone, register and intonation, mixing straight ahead, purist-satisfying soul pipes and innovative background arrangements (check out the highlight, Love, for a hugely satisfying example) with a fat dose of personality that coalesces in a single artistic vision.
It’s rather apt that Princess Freesia’s Hoxxxy Demos kick off with a Barry White cover. Beyond the staggeringly obvious physical and vocal similarities, the pair shares some of the same musical DNA. As a soul iconoclast, Bazza’s singular vision positioned him to the left of his contemporaries. He was a story teller who placed equal emphasis on the music, lyrics, vocal delivery and arrangements, without compromise. Princess Freesia’s The Hoxxxy Demos suggests that Soulpersona’s Australian cohort (and first signing to his DIGISOUL label) follows a similar approach. And while The Hoxxxy Demos may not provide us with the finished article, or a set of timeless classics a la Bazza (we’ll have to wait for her first ‘proper’ album, The Rainbow Ride, for that), it ably highlights Freesia’s expansive potential via a set of glorious soul, jazz-funk, rare groove and electro fuelled cuts, fit to burst with adroit sexiness and fizzing personality. Hoxxxy, indeed!
For a taste of two of the album’s prime cuts, just hit the player below to spin Episode 3 of the SoulCuts 2012 podcast which kicks off with the strident disco-funk of Sexy and later features the scrumptious ballad, Love.
The Hoxxxy Demos by Princess Freesia is available digitally from Saturday 25th February, via both iTunes and Amazon. Click here to purchase via iTunes.