An interview by Josh Noel that appeared in the Chicago Tribune "Reverb" section…
A multicolored Frost
Drag City songstress plays Empty Bottle and Goose Fest
Whether you interviewed Edith Frost for a half-hour, two hours or even 10 hours, you’d come away with few notes. Most people don’t take notes when talking to their friends, and Frost is so easygoing and candid and so immediately familiar that scribing most of what she says would seem a violation of friendship. Then you remember there is no friendship — you’re working here — so you’d best start writing something.
Fortunately, there’s plenty to write about Frost, a 34-year-old singer/songwriter whose music falls somewhere between rock, country and lounge. There’s her largely lauded debut album from last year, Calling Over Time, a beautiful, stark and lonely 45 minutes. Or her second album, Transcopic, (Note from Edith: That’s TELEscopic!! Jeez!!!) which will be released in October and takes an admirable step in a new direction. Or even something non-musical, like her place in her family: Her father is an "investor guy" who is so successful that he’s able to spend half the year working out of a recreational vehicle touring the country. Her sister is a lawyer. Frost lives hand-to-mouth and was recently booted from an apartment for the second time this year because her landlord wanted to renovate.
"I’m the one deadbeat in the family," said the Texas native. "My dad’s really good with money. I wish I had some of that."
What she does have is a contract with the local Drag City label, which she signed two years ago after sending unsolicited demos recorded at home in Brooklyn — just her, a guitar and her songs. The package was impressive enough to not only sign Frost, but release four of those songs as a self-titled EP. She moved to Chicago ready to record an album, and tried the same minimalist approach. The label, she said, was "underwhelmed." To flesh out the sound, it teamed her with members of fellow Drag City band Gastr del Sol. It worked. Bits of slide guitar and fiddle and soft, winding guitar solos made Calling Over Time a hit with both critics and the public. It sold about 7,000 copies, quite respectable for an indie debut.
"The first record is amazing," she said. "I haven’t listened to it cover to cover in a really long time, but it sounds really pretty — stark. That thing was a gem."
To the credit of both Frost and her label, neither wanted to try to repeat the formula. Drag City sent her in a new direction: east, to Virginia, to record in a new studio with new producer (Neil Hagerty, formerly of Royal Trux) and a new band. It was Drag City honcho Dan Koretzky who suggested Frost work with Hagerty.
"I was like, ‘Are you crazy? What the f***? How does that relate to my music?’" she said. "But that was my same reaction with the Gastr guys."
Transcopic almost sounds as if it came from a different artist. Like Calling Over Time it’s pulse doesn’t much rise above a murmur, but Frost has found her electric guitar — literally. For either her 16th birthday or high school graduation (she can’t remember which) she was given a baby blue Stratocaster, which she never picked up until just recently. She now plays it almost exclusively. It was Rian Murphy, producer of Calling Over Time and drummer for Transcopic who best summed up the difference between the albums.
"He said Calling Over Time was shades of blue," Frost said, "and this one is all colors."
Noel is a Chicago freelance writer and regular contributor to Reverb.