I can’t begin to tell you how wonderfully beautiful Elizabeth Fraser‘s voice is; you simply must hear it for yourself. Her work with the Cocteau Twins in the ’80s stood out as something intriguing, and it remains so today on the sheer merits of Fraser’s genetic instrument.
The Cocteau Twins were more than a band-they were a couple. And the moment that Fraser and Robin Guthrie ended their relationship was the moment that the Cocteau Twins ended spiritually. Sure, the band carried on for a few years after the couple split, but it was merely contractual obligations that kept the Cocteau Twins active.
There were talks of a reunion a few years ago, but Fraser got cold feet because everyone’s expectation was more than what she could emotionally deliver. And again, if you’ve heard her voice, you understand that emotion is a critical component to those soaring notes of ethereal wonder.
It was shocking to learn that Fraser struggled with addiction during those final years of the Cocteau Twins, a problem that continued to plague her even after they put the band to rest. But the real shock was how Fraser retired her voice completely. Aside from the talk of a Twins reunion, we heard Fraser on a lone Massive Attack track (“Teardrop“) from 1998 and a bit of work during Massive Attack’s 2006 tour.
The tour did not remind Fraser of the luxuries that music provided. Indeed, it had the opposite effect: it caused her to sink back into isolation, confiscating that voice from us once again.
In September of last year, a friend of Fraser and her partner (Massive Attack drummer Damon Reece) perished suddenly in an accident. The tragedy prompted Fraser to bring out a track from the archives as a tribute, the sublime “Moses” which is presented as a triple-A sided e.p., with two of the versions being remixes.
Fans of the Cocteau Twins are best served by this new track as it stunningly replicates the airy dreamscape of that band’s legendary output. And while Fraser’s hair has turned grey—visually reminding us of her age—her voice remains an enviable treasure, showing no signs of the aging process.
Fraser still sings in nonsense: layering notes and tones on top of each other with such grace that words are not missed.
The original track, with a trip-hop beat and a nifty accordion towards the end, is great. The two remixes provide an alternate view of the track, and they’re done in such a way that the resemblance to the original version is minimal. Worries that you’ll grow tired of the same track presented three times over prove to be unfounded. Moses is a great Easter give that is itself a mysterious resurrection from one of music’s most naturally gifted artists.
Audio: Elizabeth Fraser – “Moses”