‘Shifted’ – Harpeth Rising
Here is a terrific band, and one which I came across, and was very lucky to catch them live! Sometimes an album doesn’t live up that ‘live’ gig you went to, and when you’re caught up in the atmosphere of the evening, so to speak. Well, this album ‘Does’ live up to my experience of the live gig, as they bring all their musicianship into the studio, and do what they do best – sing and play! Harpeth Rising are a three piece group with all members being not only good vocalists, but also just as great on the their instruments. Three very talented, and classically trained musicians, originating from various parts of North American continent, but their mutual love, and creative impulses drew them together, to form one of the best and invigorating bands around. They have in fact, created an individual niche for themselves, and are described as ‘Chamberfolk’ which, actually is pretty acurate in a way, but there is a lot more to their music creations than that title, let me assure you of that. We have a latin, bluegrass, jazz, classical, folk, country, rock coming from one group of musicians, who seem to blend their musical inspirations and creations into a totally new sound genre, both original and inspired. So, here’s a few thought’s I had whilst listening many times to the record, but I hope you may be inspired to give it a listen too.
‘I Am Eve (I am the reason)’
Luscious unaccompanied vocals start this song and album. Some great great violin, cello, banjo, playing take us into their fantastic and wild musical world for a long instrumental, before a return to the harmony singing, this time accompanied, but vocals never crowded out, always free and expressive.
Again another melodic solo vocal line leads into the song, accompanied at first by just a lonely banjo repettiv riff, before being joined by the violin and cello. As previous, the stunning instrumental is a great addition to the song. Underlying the song throughout, is some great instrumental and continuous riffs/licks which support the whole feel of the song.
Upbeat cello, and violin pizzicato, and acoustic guitar takes you on another creative journey into their musical minds, as the instrumentals, weave a musical web inside your head, as the rhythmic pulse is almost hypnotic, before we they come back with an accappella final entry, before the final statement – terrific stuff.
‘Dance Me To The End Of Love’
Cello pizzicato takes us into an acoustic dance, playing not only a riff, but also the counter melody to the lead vocal line. Harmony singing here, is as always on the record exquisite, while the music dances around, as the instruments play off one another, climaxing with a fabulous violin solo. The feel you’re left with is you’ve just been all jazzed up, while listening to some tremendous music and singing, each complementing the other.
A simple solo vocal starts the song, before the pizzicato violin enters, followed by some great cello lines, and banjo picking riffs lead you into the song properly. The song is wonderful, clarity of the singing making the hairs on the back of this writers neck stand up, such is the tone of both the solo singing and the vocal harmonies, and the playing is held in slight restraint, as not to interfere with the storyline, which works really well, and the song ends as it begun. Yep, a true story told with singing and playing musical instruments.
‘Rollin’ To You’
Again, another fast-ish paced song led by the frenetic playing of banjo against fast cello rhythm and violin. The instrumental, lead by cello, playing against almost the others, before solo violin takes over to give us the bluegrass, meets Vivaldi sound, all the while the vocals, both solo, but especially the harmonies, warm up the sound.
A more laid back track here, starting with instrumental, before the story becomes apparent, as the singers come in. A beautiful song, with passionate singing, such a wonderful accompaniment of violin, cello, and the banjo rolling underneath. The instrumental works brilliantly, before the vocals come back to round up and complete the story – a stunning ending.
Another song which shows what a fabulous original band Harpeth Rising really, as once again we have another story brought to life by such creative means. The rhythmic pulse, almost dance like, carries us along with them, pizz strings, percussive effects, fast virtuosic instrumental playing and great singing. Trust me on this one, you’ve got to hear how fantastic these musicians are, and this track alone will show while I’m a big fan.
Repetitive banjo playing throughout while the cello, and violin add that extra something which provides the song with it’s colour. Drone cello/violin in the verses, change their patterns in chorus’s. As you’d expect by now, we have a delight of an instrumental, before the vocals return to round up another enchanting song.
An original approach of leading off with just cello, later joined by banjo and violin as the voice enters. The accompaniment is almost a set of phrase of minimalism before chorus’s take it somewhere else.
Band members clapping, creating another colour to the album, before single cello playing pizzicato, and as the chorus appears we have another feel of originality. Verse returns, this time accompanied by the other instruments, and back to the chorus, before pizzicato duet between violin and cello let loose, before a return the storytelling of the vocalists, this time with instruments weaving their way in and out of the melody. Again a strong chorus, takes us back to verse.
Title track, a beautiful ending song beginning with vocal harmonies, before song starts properly. As usual, the banjo leading the pulse of the song, with cello, violin weaving their way around underneath, shining at times, hidden at others. The instrumental section is terrifically powerful, maybe reminding us of what fabulous songwriters/musicians they are and they know how to say what they both feel and think in the form of music.
Something has certainly ‘Shifted’ excuse the musical pun here, in the sound of 21st music and Harpeth Risng are one of the reasons for this – an absolute delight of a recording. The arrangements, melodies, harmonies, hypnotic rhythms, stunning instrumental playing, well crafted songs, lyrics, the list just goes on, what’s not to like. Yep, you’ve guessed – I loved it. This their second album, and a lot of crafted work has gone into it too. The sound quality throughout is excellent, with great production.So, go get yourself a copy now, and envelop yourself in some great new music, and if you get chance to see them live, trust me, you won’t be disappointed, they are fabulous to see and hear live! Check them out on: harpethrising.com