Growing up in Scunthorpe with songs by Bob Dylan playing in his home, Stephen Fretwell’s interest in music began at a young age. He borrowed a guitar from his grandparents and made tapes of his songs for friends and family. As a teenager, Fretwell also started a band called Label.
He moved to Manchester to attend university but wasn't enrolled for long, instead finding his place in the city’s burgeoning music scene, where he became something of a folk troubadour with a raw edge. During this time, Fretwell wrote and performed songs such as Emily and What’s That You Say Little Girl that would appear on his 2002 debut mini-album 8 Songs. Released on his friend’s label Northern Ambition, it got him noticed by the local press and landed him an opening spot at an Elbow gig.
After self-releasing a pair of EPs – Something’s Got To Give and The Lines – Fretwell also began to land support slots with other major acts like Oasis, Travis, Keane and KT Tunstall.
In 2004, his debut full-length album Magpie came out on Fiction Records. Not only did it climb to No.27 on the UK albums chart, but the record also spawned the heartfelt single Run, which would be used a few years later in the BAFTA-winning hit TV series Gavin And Stacey.
Fretwell received an Ivor Novello award nomination for songwriting for his follow-up album, 2007’s Man On The Roof. However, after that he mysteriously disappeared from the music scene, with fan websites and Twitter accounts launched a decade later to “Find Fretwell”.
After an absence of 13 years, Fretwell surprised his loyal cult following by releasing the lead single Oval in early 2021 followed by The Long Water, with his third album Busy Guy arriving in July. Recorded during a single two-hour session on a hot afternoon, he described the collection as a “song cycle of sorts” examining everything from fatherhood to loss and rebirth.
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