Born in the town of Scunthorpe in 1981, English singer and songwriter Stephen Fretwell was introduced to the music of Bob Dylan at a young age. Using a borrowed guitar from his grandparents, the young artist began writing his own songs and made tapes for his family and friends. After a brief attempt at university life — he lasted two days — Fretwell relocated to Manchester, where his clear northern voice, poetic lyrics, and melodic guitar work soon won him an audience. After landing a much-sought-after opening gig with local heroes Elbow, the 21-year-old began releasing his music on a friend’s Northern Ambition label. 8 Songs, the Something’s Gotta Give EP, and The Lines, all released between 2001 and 2003, became collector’s items and brought Fretwell to the attention of the press. He signed to Fiction Records in 2003 and released his first full-length, Magpie, in November, recorded at Abbey Road studios in London. Fretwell recorded the follow-up, Man on the Roof, in New York City; it was released in 2007. He ended up taking a lengthy break from music, returning 14 years later with his third studio album, 2021’s Busy Guy, where he reflected on the time he had spent in between records; through Fretwell’s story-telling approach to lyrics, the album explored themes of fatherhood, grief, rebirth, and the seasons of life.