Release Date: Apr 2, 2012
Record label: Island
Why doesn't the US produce burnished female retroistas in the numbers Britain does? Salford's Ren Harvieu is the latest young Brit to be drawn to the elegant drama of early-60s pop, with its lush arrangements and heart-on-sleeve vocals. She has a marvellous voice for this sort of thing – by turns reined-in and soaring – and a coterie of sympathetic songwriters, including Dave McCabe of the Zutons and the Stands' Howie Payne; between them, they've made a wonderfully lavish, romantic record. Harvieu is not one for playing hard to get – the songs are unabashedly sentimental and needy ("How can I make it alone?" she implores on Walking in the Rain).
As this is not [i]The X Factor[/i], we can dispense with the heart-rending back-story right away. Yes, this young Mancunian singer had an awful accident that nearly immobilised her and delayed the release of this album by a year and, yes, she’s got some powerful supporters in the songwriting camp (Dave McCabe, James Allen, Ed Harcourt, Howie Payne), but that all vanishes when she squares up to the microphone. Hers is an arresting voice, soft and sweet, but dark in hue and sharp with melancholy, like a vinegar smoothie.
On paper, 21-year-old Ren Harvieu is an unremarkable proposition: her debut album comprises Bacharach-flavoured MOR with titles such as "Forever in Blue" and "Walking in the Rain". But what should be dull is transformed into something irresistible, thanks to her simply faultless voice. And she uses it with such sophistication: single "Open Up Your Arms" is powered with full, lung-pumping feeling.
Salford chanteuse delivers her share of astonishingly mature Big Pop Choruses. David Sheppard 2012 In gentler, less reality-TV-show-saturated times, 21-year-old Salford chanteuse Ren Harvieu would have been a shoo-in for the highlight song spot on every light entertainment programme in the schedule, such is the instant familiarity of her gilded pipes and her, at times, astonishingly mature delivery of the Big Pop Chorus. No production line, Brit-school graduate, Harvieu is an instinctive, ingenuous singer whose naturally potent instrument instantly recalls Linda Ronstadt, Dusty Springfield and occasionally, on this soaring, sometimes melodramatically produced debut long player, the likes of lamé-and-sequin belters such as Cilla Black and Shirley Bassey.