Harriet

Monday 18th July 2016

Live at The Pheasantry, Chelsea, London, United Kingdom

Provided By Artist

Having been sent some promo tracks by the young English singer Harriet, I am determined to see her play live before we meet to talk about her music and aims. However the only shows are happening when I am between festivals and have some own shows to do, hence on the hottest day of the year I buy a ticket and head up to the Kings Road in Chelsea. As luck would have it, the venue’s excellent air conditioning system has been on during soundcheck and since, so to be able to relax in the music room in comfort is more than welcome. There are a lot Business folk there and record company coves plus some keen followers…this could be a good one

The PR has been baiting me on who Harriet might resemble as a singer. After a listen I suggest Carpenter, Mary Chapin that is. It’s a great storytelling voice. Well OK, I concede it’s a tad closer to Karen Carpenter. And that seems to be mainstream’s verdict. Harriet does sing in the same range as the late singer, but is young and rapidly finding her own style. Working with some real pro’s is undoubtedly helping, but some of these types tend to treat singers as aural plasticine to decorate compositions they have ready in their stockpile. I still shudder at the heyday and radio domination of the Stock Aitken Waterman collective. It was hard for original acts to get any airtime. The fact that Simon Cowell has yet to find any durable ORIGINAL act evidences the continuation of the STW style of production. This far Harriet’s recordings sound well-honed and smartly put together, in a Radio 2-friendly way BUT her own style comes through and live she is..well, stunning.

The elephant in the room, in tutu and covered in fairy lights is that Harriet looks fantastic on stage, no gimmicky clothes or outre moves, no shouting, no acrobatics physical or vocal. Her backing singers add so much to the sound and also look splendid. The band lineup of keys, drums, electric bass guitar and electro-acoustic guitar provide muscle when needed and an airy backdrop – sometimes just piano. The arrangements allow for ebb and flow but the icing on the cake is the warm, clear and straight song delivery by Harriet. No treating the notes as elastic in a faux effort to sound ‘soulful’ as afflicts so many acts these days – especially the Cowellifed ones. No shouting or screeching. Every key sounds comfortable, some thought has gone into this. A good rapport with the crowd leaves us smiling throughout the show. Mostly own material but some versions added here and there. Stoneheart here will never have any affection for the deep and cultured works of S Club 7, but I was never that lot’s audience…she fares better for me with a shot at Dreams and a lovely Clifford T Ward tune, now THAT’s taste! In a sense Harriet is A Girl Out Of Time as her songs and pacing evoke classic Laurel Canyon songsmiths like Carole King.

Empty Shoes is a heartbreaking song, neatly explained here; What’s Mine Is Yours is A grade pop. Afterglow has a stately piano intro reminiscent of Procol’s Salty Dog and deftly handled. Can I Keep You has a twist of Disney. Michael Buble is not present but doing one of his songs prompts our chanteuse to hint that a duet might not be refused. Fly is one of the sterling co-writes with Steve Anderson and they all work; elsewhere there are collaborations with the sublime Judy Tzuke. Whoever You Are is another strong number. Another intro to a song called Permission To Kiss makes it a beguiling tune. But the well-crafted and hypnotic Broken For You is for this listener the jewel in the crown, a biting lyric and equally affecting melody. This is songcraft, folks….

She thanks her band and singers. It’s still warm outside but THIS was a cool evening in every sense.

 

Pete Sargeant

 



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Harriet’s new single ‘Broken For You’ is out now. Her debut self-titled album is released on Friday 7th October 2016. For more information visit her official website here: http://bit.ly/2aq92QY

(* Thanks Sam, thanks Kris)