Busy Guy was produced by Fretwell’s close friend and Speedy Wunderground label boss, Dan Carey. They recorded the whole thing one hot July afternoon in just two hours. “I was so fired up, I just rattled off the songs,” Fretwell says. “I assumed it was the run-through, but Dan said he thought we’d got it.” The next day, Carey assembled “a palate of sound” involving keyboards and an electric guitar. “Dan said, ‘I’m just going to react to the songs over the next few hours’, and that’s the finished record, besides some cello.” The album title was also Carey’s idea. Fretwell explains: “Years ago, Dan asked why I always carried a copy of The Guardian, a notebook and a pen when all I did was go to the pub. I said: if you go to the pub at 11am with a newspaper, a notebook and pen, you look like a busy guy rather than a pisshead. It became a joke between us. The joke too is that I didn’t do any music for years.”
The album was recorded at Dean Street Studios in Soho, not far from where Fretwell now lives, and London looms large on the record, in titles like ‘Oval’ and ‘Embankment’: stops on the Tube, and urban images shimmer as Fretwell captures a city full of pride and secrets. He wrote most of the lyrics for Busy Guy sitting in the British Library, “taking the songs to pieces and reassembling them, refining the words, thinking about the stories.”
While Busy Guy acknowledges tragedy, it is also punctuated with hope. The narrator of ‘Embankment’ might beg for his body to be dragged from the water, but his heart is still beating. Busy Guy is a record that dips into darkness but ultimately shines in its own light. A record that symbolises a waking up. A fresh start. A newness that bears the weight of the past but uses it to great effect."
Released: July 2021
Label: Speedy Wunderground
Tracklist1. The Goshawk and the Gull
5. The Long Water