Seattle-based Americana band Fretland released their self-titled debut album earlier this year, and now their follow up, Could Have Loved You, is set for release in March – so it seems that the pandemic hasn’t stopped them from being prolific. Listeners can hear their homespun, spare music on the new album’s title track, which dropped as the lead single on October 19.
Regarding the inspiration behind “Could Have Loved You,” frontwoman Hillary Grace Fretland says, “I don’t have this string of failed relationships that I can dig into for material. It’s a very small list. I’ve often felt ashamed that I still think about them from time to time and hope they’re doing well, or wonder where I’d be if we tried to work it out. I feel like some live in a space where romanticism means only having space in your heart for one person. There’s nothing wrong with that at all. I just feel that I have made room for it to be more complex. This story is about two people who have moved on and will always wonder and always have love for each other.”
Although the gentle song is a pensive reflection on deep emotions, the actual writing process was quick and peaceful: “This song quite literally came to me as I was sitting on the porch watching the sunset with albeit not my favorite bottle of wine, but a good one,” Fretland says. “I wrote the rest sitting next to my fireplace that same evening.”
This is, Fretland says, the way that much of the rest of the new album came to her.
“Each story is really capitalizing on a feeling, the kind that just takes up all your mental space and puts a heaviness in each room of your chest,” she says. “Feelings of loss, mourning, and shame. I suppose it was on my heart to explore all those themes that I generally try to put to bed before I’ve really explored them. Lots of these songs came in my car, where I do a lot of my processing. Usually I’m trying to make sense of or defend a feeling that I feel is justified but I don’t know why. Then I pull out my voice memos and start digging.”
Fretland knows that it may seem surprising that a band from Seattle would play music like this – but she also points out how that area’s storied music scene has crept into her songwriting.
“The fact that we are creating Americana/folk music in the same scene that bred ‘90’s grunge and indie artists like Death Cab for Cutie, Modest Mouse and Pedro the Lion can be heard and felt in our music,” she says. “Our music is inspired by love and simple living whether you live on the beach, in the mountains or the valley between. I think Pacific Northwest dwellers hear an obvious twang in our sound, and Americana or country fans can likely hear the Pacific Northwest.”
Now, with Could Have Loved You, Fretland and her bandmates Jake Haber (bass) and Luke Francis (guitar) continue to share their unique sound with listeners well beyond the Pacific Northwest.
“This album served as a home for me to explore my more enigmatic emotions. I hope listeners can hear themselves in these stories without judgment and process their own heart and minds and find healing,” Fretland says, adding that the band “wants to embrace the mess and explore the beauty and humanity of it all. My hope is that people feel less alone after listening to these songs, even if at the end they’re still wrestling with it.”