Cariad Harmon says alot with just Four Letters
Sometimes an artist or band comes along that just gets it. In a time when so many major label artists seem to plunder along from producer to producer (even within the same album) trying to find “a sound” or gimmick that will help them connect with today’s market (whatever that is), we are occasionally fortunate enough to happen upon an indie artist who could have made a great record in any decade.
Cariad Harmon has taken an approach to folk music that seamlessly incorporates jazz, pop and even rudimentary blues in a way not seen since Nick Drake. In fact, her fellow countryman is perhaps the best comparison. Gentle lilting-melodies, simple, relatable stories, beautifully hypnotizing string arrangements and production are key elements to both artists’ records and, in Harmon’s case, make for a captivating slice of New York Americana (by way of London).
A classically pretty singer-songwriter with a disarming smile and contagious laugh, Harmon has been building momentum in her adopted hometown for some time. Infact, she has become a regular attraction at such NYC haunts as The Rockwood Music Hall, Banjo Jim’s and Pete’s Candy Store. With her debut album Four Letters dropping earlier this year, she has caught the attention of an unexpectedly wide variety of individuals, including director Julian Goldberger (her music being featured in the Paul Giomatti film The Hawk is Dying) and music industry mini-mogal Adam Dorn (a.k.a. Mocean Worker), who was so taken with Harmon’s early mixes of Four Letters that he offered to release the album on his own fledgling label, MOWO! inc. And she’s starting to get the attention that she deserves from the press as well. Her album recently found it’s way into the hands of the folks at Rolling Stone (yeah that one) receiving a favorable review in their October issue.
At a recent coffeehouse performance, Harmon’s sweet, genuine voice and sensitive guitar playing seemed out of place next to the Ani Difranco wanna-bes and 1960’s Dylan knock-offs. Not to take away from the other performers but to see Harmon is that context is to only accentuate her originality and “star power” (whatever that means these days). Cariad’s music and personality are better suited for an intimate theatre than the standard coffeehouse fair. I wouldn’t be surprised to see her playing those type of venue’s soon.
But catch her live anywhere you can. There is a timeless quality and sense of romance to Harmon’s songs that transcends the album’s top-notch production (provided by Chris Abell and singer-songwriter-pianist Oli Rockberger) translating perfectly to a live setting and is sure to enhance your evening. Don’t we all need a little enhancement after a long day at the office? If your in the NYC area this week, she’s headlining at the Rockwood Music Hall, 196 Allen St., November 1st 11pm.
Harmon’s record itself is a perfect fit for film placement or simply your ipod. With intense atmosphere and equally intense space, you are drawn in but not distracted from your environment. In fact there is something in the delivery and production of the album’s title track that seems to enhance your surroundings, like a personal soundtrack. Whether sitting in a coffee shop, walking down a busy street or driving a back-country road (all things I have done while enjoying this record), you may just start to notice the remarkable cohesiveness of the world around you. This universal connection is what great records are made of.
Cariad Harmon is the type of artist making music that will sound as good in 20 years as it does today. She’s the type of artist you might just discover for yourself if you’re sure to…
Live Well & Listen Closely,
read more articles by music writer J. Hayes at: http://www.examiner.com/x-4161-New-American-Music-Examiner
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