Review: Nicola Harrison – Under Water

After a number of encouraging new releases on the small but perfectly British label Sitting Target Music, it is now singer/songwriter Nicola Harrison’s turn to release her first album. That is not to say Harrison is a typical artist from this over-populated genre though. Hers is a talent that seems wonderfully out of step with modern day concerns.

Although essentially a folk album, Harrison is prepared to mix tradition with her own unique sense of eeriness and the results are often inspired. The Kate Bush-like ‘Weekend Fete’ temptingly offers “a penny for my cake” which may represent remarkably good value in these hard times but its underlying suggestions reveal somewhat earthier concerns.

Harrison’s reference points are varied and unpredictable. The jangle of Cherry Red Records can be detected on the dreamy ‘Too Easy’ and also ‘This Might Be Love’, whereas there’s a Richard Hawley-style “twang” to a ‘A Bridge Over Time’; a track which skilfully combines easy going verses with an urgent chorus. Yet it’s ‘Behind The Lens’ that proves to be the masterstroke as Harrison’s pure yet haunted vocals are set to subtle echo chamber effects.

On the surface, Harrison seems to be delivering nothing new as there will be many acoustic songwriters releasing albums based on a doomed search for love. Yet there’s something genuinely otherworldly about her songs as Harrison’s wounded, vulnerable vocals float alongside some perfectly judged arrangements.

Web Sites:
Nicola Harrison MySpace
Sitting Target Label and Shop Site

Further Listening:
Kate Bush, Richard Hawley, Suzanne Vega, A Girl Called Eddy

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