Photographs Links Mailing List Guestbook Contact Me
Harriet and I have been friends too long for me to be patronising. I could say that this CD is great "for a sixteen-year-old", but I'm going to be brutally honest... This CD is superb - for anyone of any age!!
There are places where her youth shows through - hints of naiveté in places and nervousness in others - that close friends will pick up, but these moments add an extra poignancy to her very accomplished playing and singing.
She starts with a slow tune that she wrote in honour of her friend Phil Cunningham - wow, fancy having the chutzpah to start with a slow air! Her playing pulls you in close, right from the start. It is terrific. Then Mark Maguire joins her with a lovely understated bodhran motif that leads into a couple of lively jigs. (Hey, "lovely - understated - bodhran", there's three words you don't often see together. But the accompanying musicians are all top-notch. They include the afore-mentioned Mr Cunningham on piano, cittern and whistles and Ed Boyd on guitar.)
She goes on to sing "Crazy Man Michael" - and that's where the youthful fragility in her voice really gets you. There's a set of reels played with enviable precision and another of her own tunes. Alistair McDonald's song about Culloden is next and, again, that voice gives it a poignancy that grips you. More original tunes follow, then some written by others and some traditional - and, without the CD notes, I think it unlikely that anyone could spot which is which. This girl can write beautiful music as well as play it.
Another song, "Some People Cry", is another high spot for me (I'm a singer - I like songs). Again, the word that comes to mind is "poignant" but I don't want you to think that this implies "sentimental" or "weepy". I mean that she sings the words so that they touch your heart and not just your ears. She goes on to play more wonderful tunes including some old favourites such as "Ashokan Farewell" and "Music for a Found Harmonium" then finishes the CD with an unaccompanied song!! Wow!! Did I mention chutzpah?
I have known Harriet since she was eight, when she first came to the sessions at Priest Weston with an accordion that she could hardly peep over. She couldn't close the bellows without using her knees to help out. I've seen her grow into a beautiful young woman; a brilliant musician and (partly thanks to my encouragement) a lovely singer. So, I'm sure you will forgive me if I glow with the pride of a surrogate uncle and say, "Well done, our Harriet." No, I mean, "REALLY well done."
By the way, the recording is perfect, as you might expect when it's produced by Phil and engineered by Brian McNeill. Some people say that Harriet is "lucky" to have met such fine musicians as Aly Bain and Phil. Well yes, of course she is, but you have to realise - these guys are fine musicians because they recognise quality - in their own playing and in other's.
Written by Chris Bartram