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Ren Harvieu Through the Night Review

Album. Released 2012.  

BBC Review

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.

Harvieu has already won some high-profile fans, not least fellow Salfordian Johnny Marr. His regular tweets were a source of inspiration when Harvieu’s fledgling career was interrupted by a freak accident – an over-refreshed herbert accidentally stumbling on top of her at a party, fracturing part of her spine in the process. It took a couple of months in hospital, and Marr’s encouragement, before Harvieu was sufficiently recovered to complete Through the Night.

Fans of classic, anthemic orchestral pop should be grateful to the NHS and the erstwhile Smith, as this decade-defying album delivers grand phalanxes of unashamedly huge, old-fashioned string and brass-laden arrangements, all in support of a singer whose pleasure centre-targeted melodies repeatedly do their nape hair-sensitising thing.

Thus, Open Up Your Arms arrives swathed in exultant violins, with Harvieu pleading yet self-possessed on the verses, just like Dusty, before ratcheting up the ache on the towering choruses. The strutting Tonight, all Bond-theme brass and Bassey-recalling images of stars “hanging like diamonds”, is no less instantly affecting.

Harvieu is not all about stentorian pop grandeur, however. There’s a soulful intimacy at play on the relatively restrained Holding On – imagine Dusty in Memphis by way of Rumur – and it’s no surprise that Nashville is already pricking up its ears. Meanwhile, Summer Romance, a gloriously importuning (“please don’t let me hear you say goodbye”) Roy Orbison song in all but name, pulls off the double whammy of tenderness and anthemic opulence with an effortless aplomb which, like much on this impressive debut, belies Harvieu’s tender years.

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