Album review: ALEX HART – On This Day

Alex Hart - On This Day

Right Track [Release date: 10.11.14]

I was hoping, having heard Alex Hart’s debut single ‘Orange Van’, with its subtle ‘folktronic’ beat, that the Devon based singer songwriter may be the next Beth Orton.  But while she describes her style as West County Country, she has more in common with the likes of Lisbee Stainton, and K T Tunstall – by whom Hart was inspired to take up guitar at the age of 14.

Performing across the West Country since that tender age, as a fifteen year old she teamed up with singer-songwriter Barney Dine who became her co-writer and who supplies guitars, ukulele, mandolin and backing vocals on her debut release.

The project would also appear to have been heavily influenced by relative veteran Neil Stainton who as well as producing, plays keyboards contributes not insignificantly to the songwriting.  The result is an album that is mature, and some may say dated, beyond Hart’s 23 years.  One that includes material as diverse as a Doris Day cover (‘Everybody Loves A Lover’) and ‘Have A Nice Life’ which borrows heavily on Elvis Costello’s ‘Pump It Up’.

The result is that the appeal of On This Day is likely to lie way beyond Hart’s own generation and with the Radio 2 demographic who like their listening to be of a ‘light’ nature.  Musically and vocally the performance is beyond reproach, although The X-Factor has a case to answer in influencing the homogenised vocal style of a generation – technical virtuosity is in plentiful supply, but individuality increasingly rare.

It’s clear that blood, sweat and tears have been invested in On This Day.  And while it’s a very fine effort, for me it’s too ‘safe’ with too many of the songs running out of steam without getting under the skin.  It’s a clear demonstration of ability, and one to be proud of, but I can’t see it having sufficient wings to lift Alex Hart beyond the swelling ranks of the folk/singer songwriter circuit.  ***

Review by Pete Whalley

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