It’s funny how these things work but my inbox is being absolutely flooded by singer/songwriters at the minute. I’m blaming the weather… the sun comes out and all of a sudden there are acoustic guitars everywhere! I’ll be honest though it’s hardly the worst problem that I’ve ever had.
In any event today’s spotlight falls on a certain young lady named Harriet! (In case you were wondering that’s not me getting over excited, that’s just her stage name)
The Derby based song-smith may only be 20 years old but that doesn’t mean that she lacks experience as the fact that she has been gigging since the age of 14 will testify. She has performed in bands as well as as a solo artist with those gigs taking her to the Edinburgh Fringe and as far afield as Maiwoche Festival in Germany. As well as her own material Harriet! also performs a number of covers from artists as varied as Gnarles Barkley, Evanescence, Dolly Parton and the White Stripes. Oh and her music has been played on American radio too. The long and short of all that is that Harriet! is on a roll and making quite a name for herself.
Hidden Messages marks Harriet!’s debut EP release and it’s a release that makes quite the first impression. Things get under way with You And Me and the best things about the track is that it shows that this lady is far more than just another singer/songwriter. The verses are stripped back and then out of nowhere some rocky electric guitar arrives for the chorus which took me completely by surprise. It’s almost like the track is two separate songs. The hook is great and crucially I really like the vocal. It seems to carry more power and authority than your standard ‘dainty voice over an acoustic guitar’ and personally that’s a massive plus.
The pace picks up a touch with the arrival of one of the more commercial efforts on the record in the form of Late–Teens Bitch. (Single version is also included in the release as Late–Teens Witch) The whole thing is just a little more fun than the opener and as the title suggests it carries a little more attitude. The track wouldn’t sound out of place on any pop music station that you care to mention. Following tune Such A Tease is the only track on the EP that didn’t grab me straight away. It’s a slower build and has echoes of some of Fleetwood Mac’s less rockier moments. The song grew on me with every listen and while it still isn’t my favourite I have grown to like it.
Final track (If you exclude the single edit of LTB) 1 New Message is my favourite by a distance and I think it’s a fantastic piece of work. It’s a real old school, acoustic break up ballad but while it treads this familiar ground it’s still fresh and interesting. The tune takes the form of an answerphone message where Harriet! is breaking up with Charlie, (The person receiving the message) who it is suggested is in fact listening along ‘live.’ Right at the end of the song you hear Charlie ‘press 1’ to listen to the message again and while this is the smallest, most delicate of touches in terms of rounding off the song and running up the emotion that little bit further it is absolutely perfect.
Hidden Messages is a brilliant debut effort. Each song brings something different to the table, and the song writing is beautifully efficient. There are no wasted words, everything has its place and this makes the songs relatable for the listener. As I mentioned above I really like the style of her vocal and I should also commend the production which is spot on.
At only 20 years old you could argue that Harriet!’s musical career is still in its infancy and that there is plenty more to come but that would be to overlook what she has produced here. Hidden Messages is a fantastic record, and one which will surely see Harriet! cement her place as one of the East Midlands’ brightest rising talents.
Festival Dates 2015:
Walsall Woodstock – 24th May (Main Stage)
Acoustic Festival of Britain – 19th-20th June (Second Stage)
Derby Beer Festival – 9th July (Centre, Market Place)
Osfest – 25th July (Main Stage)
Americana International Festival – 11th July (Main Stage)
Peak Festival – 29th July (Main Stage)
Y Not Festival – 31st July-2nd Aug (Hog and Barrel Stage)
Hidden Messages is out now.