Ren Harvieu

Through the Night

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One of many artists discovered via MySpace before it turned into an online wasteland, Salford singer/songwriter Ren Harvieu was about to release her major-label debut album, record a duet with Nas, and perform at Glastonbury when she broke her back following a freak accident on a night out. It's the kind of tragic back story that would have been milked for all it was worth had she entered The X-Factor. But despite a lengthy stay in hospital recuperating, where she was told she may never walk again and that her music career may have been over before it began, her long-awaited first studio effort, Through the Night, doesn't allude at all to such trials and tribulations. Instead, Harvieu focuses on melodramatic tales of love and heartbreak on a hugely sumptuous record which harks back to the lush orchestral pop of the '60s. Written by a who's-who of mid-table indie rockers including the Zutons' Dave McCabe, the Stands' Howie Payne and Chicago duo the Redwalls, there's a big, brassy, Shirley Bassey-esque Bond theme ("Tonight"), a yearning, Dusty Springfield-ish torch song ("Do Right by Me"), and a Bacharach-inspired lounge pop number (the title track), all of which are bathed in appropriately lavish strings courtesy of Duffy producer Jimmy Hogarth. If all this sounds a little derivative, that's because it is. Harvieu's soaring, seductive tones recall, at various points, Norah Jones, Chrissie Hynde, Karen Carpenter, and Cilla Black, while there are definite shades of Lana Del Rey's noir-ish Americana on "Forever in Blue" and Rumer on the intimate country-soul of "Holding On." But Through the Night's suitably grandiose homage to the first wave of British pop divas is so authentic, and recorded with such affection, that it doesn't really matter.

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