Freda James is exactly what the world needs right now. First of all, her musical technique is impeccable. She combines elements from genres such as soul, disco, R&B, and pop to create her distinct sound. Secondly, she’s not afraid to embrace her flaws and empower other women. With her all-female band, Freda built up her reputation for creating woman-empowerment music in Brooklyn before moving to the West Coast in 2017.
Her debut EP, ‘A Woman Alone’, dropped on July 19th. ‘A Woman Alone’ includes three previously released singles — “Horrified”, “Bound To You”, and “Just Like Wind”. In addition to these, Freda gives us two never-before-heard tracks — “Soft” and “A Woman Alone”.
Before you even press ‘play’ on Freda’s EP, she’s making a statement.
The EP cover is completely unedited, save for the black-and-white filter. Freda’s cellulite and so-called imperfections are wholly visible. This authentic portrayal of the singer’s real body is refreshing, in an industry so heavily reliant on airbrushing and surgeries.
In a Facebook post, Freda recounts the idea behind the EP title. “Forever we’ve associated the idea of ‘a woman alone’ with being lonely or unsafe…I’ve been envisioning a world where that is no longer the energy; rather, a woman is free to be powerfully alone without fear for her body, her safety, [or] her place in the world”, Freda explained. Well said.
Below, I analyze all five of the songs on the EP.
‘Just Like Wind’ begins with a synthy beat and Freda’s emotional crooning. The song incorporates Donna Summer-inspired chanting, a funky vibe nostalgic of the 1980s, and high-spirited bass lines. Co-written with Chrome Sparks and Dave Weingarten, ‘Just Like Wind’ describes the rush of first love. The song’s uptempo aspects were created with the intention of giving you that rush, but the lyrics tell you to take it slow — “We’ll go slow, ’cause I know that you’re healing / I’ll be around, I’m not leaving”. It’s a strong start to the EP, and I can definitely see myself dancing to this song the next time I have a crush.
‘Bound To You’ is leagues moodier than the previous track, but just as easy to listen to. Freda delivers her most evocative vocal performance here, pouring her heart and soul into the song. ‘Bound To You’ tells the story of overcoming a past romance, and learning to love yourself through it all. I found this to be the most hypnotic song on the EP, and would highly recommend listening to this one when you need to feel at peace.
‘Horrified’ tells the story of toxic love and the pain that comes with it. The crisp percussive beats of this track are reminiscent of ‘Monster’ by Dodie, while Freda’s vocals have power similar to that of Florence Welch from Florence + The Machine. “I was seeing this emotionally manipulative musician at the time [of writing Horrified] and I felt addicted to his destruction,” Freda confesses. ‘Horrified’ paints a picture of being consumed by love for someone who doesn’t care about you, and the hurting that comes with letting go of that relationship. It’s the perfect song to help you leave an unhealthy relationship.
‘Soft’ is appropriately named for its gentle tone, but the lyrics hit hard. “Climb again all over my skin, and I’ll rip you off,” Freda promises. Her poignant vocals are accompanied by simple piano and smooth harmonies, allowing her talent to take center stage. The lyrics are minimal, with the phrases “Climb all over my skin, and I’ll rip you off” and “I don’t love the man that you’ve become” being repeated multiple times. This evokes a mantra-like lullaby that oozes vulnerability.
The title track of the EP, ‘A Woman Alone’ does not disappoint. “I’m a woman alone, already know what to do / can’t teach me anything I’ve not already used,” Freda triumphantly states. ‘A Woman Alone’ was created with the intention of empowering women, and the song succeeds. It depicts a woman who needs no one but herself to succeed, who knows herself better than anyone else. The anthem is the most heavily R&B-influenced out of the five, allowing the EP to come to a powerful ending.
Despite the EP being less than twenty minutes long, it covers a wide variety of topics and genres. From the groovy synths of ‘Just Like Wind’ to the melancholic piano of ‘Soft’, each song boasts a maturity not typically seen in a debut EP. It’s clear that Freda James is wise beyond her years. It’s a strong debut, and I truly look forward to seeing what this strong woman does next in her career.
Featured image via Twitter