Fringe Box



Singer’s New Release ‘Happy End’ is Just the Beginning

Published on: 10 Mar, 2013
Updated on: 10 Mar, 2013

By Sam Liddicott

Singer Fran Galea, aka Chess, (a student of Guildford’s Academy of Contemporary Music) has been very busy as of late.

Fran Galea, aka Chess.

Fran Galea, aka Chess.

Following the release of her eponymous debut EP Babygirl, comes a bonus track release. And, like the EP, it means serious business. She is also playing Guildford’s Star Inn on Friday, March 22.

I was amazed by the Babygirl EP for a number of reasons; chief among them, the maturity of the material displayed. The songs were brilliantly realised, empassioned and very much, I’d say, ‘dance-able’. If there was any minute criticism, it was a lack of halcyon, down-tempo numbers. But now…

Don’t let the title seduce you, firstly. In a slight sense of misnomer, Happy End (written with Yulia Hauer) is only half of the full story.

Beginning with an emotive, pizzicato piano line and a gorgeous, swooning coo, the track sets the scene right from the off. It tells the story of failed love, with Chess telling her unnamed former flame: “I had your back/but all you did was tear me apart”. 

The vocal during the verses reminds me of Eva Cassidy’s renditions of Waly Waly and Autumn Leaves, and has the same spellbinding stillness to it.

The track testifies how her one-time beau had a chance to be with her (“sorry, but you had your chance”)The chorus is quite enraptured and delivered passionately. It is used didactically and repeated fairly frequently, which adds potency, as its key line explains: “we don’t have a happy end”. 

The vocals here are harder and more forceful and bring to mind Leona Lewis, Jessie Ware and Christina Aguilera. At just over three and a half minutes, it is also a tight and concise song, as well and is a terrific number to add to Chess’s cannon.

Overall the number has hints of female blues legends, as well as modern pop icons. Unlike many of her peers, complete with distended egos, Chess is not going out of her way to model herself to conform to a status quo, or fit into a mould. She is doing what she wants to do, not what she has to.

Her voice has elements also of male counterparts such as Matt Corby and Ben Howard; her songwriting ability is incredibly impressive and developed for one so young, and her passion and conviction nods to some of her idols such as Freddie Mercury and Prince.

Special mention to the production as well. The track is polished but not overly produced, and lets Chess’s vocals do the talking, while blending the music around them. Happy End is more than a bonus track, and reminds me a lot of her EP track Things Take Time.

It is an intriguing sign as to what her next EP may sound like; or maybe not. With such a range and diversity in her armoury, it is anyone’s guess what happens next, whether it is soul, blues or snarling rock. The wait will be an exciting one!  One thing is for sure, catch her on tour now and see what all the fuss is about.

Chess is playing The Star Inn, Guildford, on Friday, March 22.

Chess’s website:




Babygirl is available online at:


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