HARROW FAIR - Call To Arms

Roraing Girl Records [Release date 19.05.17]

Deploying that now familiar White Stripes, unaccompanied two piece modus operandi, Canadian duo Miranda Mulholland and Andrew Penner let loose a kick drum fuelled debut laced with rootsy guitar and fiddle.

Both well established and renowned players – the flame haired Mulholld, in particular, having a cv longer than a rattlesnake – the pair have crossed paths regularly since 2008, but only relatively recently started working together.

They describe their sound as old folk and country music mixed with garage rock, and that’s a fair description of an album part rootsy country (‘Told A Lie To My Heart’, ‘Been There Ways’), part folk (‘How Cold’, ‘Emmaline’), and part rock ‘n’ roll (‘The Hunt’, ‘Call To Arms’, ‘Bite The Way’).  Shared lead vocals, counterparts, and harmonies are a key element.

There’s an edginess and attitude to proceedings that you don’t usually associate with a ‘roots’ release, and while that sets Harrow Fair apart from most of their contemporaries it also presents a conundrum as to where their appeal will lie (or not).

For me, the jury remains firmly out – it’s a great formula, but overall I’m not convinced the material is strong enough to straddle genres or conformist enough to satisfy purists.  ***

OH SUSANNA A Girl In Teen City
Continental Song City [Release date 12.05.17]

Part autobiographical, part fictional, A Girl In Teen City revisits Suzanne/Suzie Ungerleider’s pubescent years in Vancouver – a city itself undergoing a transformation from sleepy port town to metropolis in the 1980s.

Forget the Juno nominations.  Forget Suzanne / Suzie / Susanna’s folk, country, and roots badging (sometimes I wonder if a Canadian passport is all that’s needed for a Juno nomination),  A Girl In Teen City is an adult orientated ‘pop’ album, following – not exactly hot on the heels of – Namedropper (2014), an album written for her pseudo name Oh Susanna by some of Canada’s top songwriters.

A coming of age diary set to music, A Girl In Teen City is an album to which anyone willing to revisit their formative years should be able to relate.  And with her ‘girly’ vocals belying her years – this is her seventh album since the release of her debut EP 20 years ago – the bitter sweet stories of pleasure and pain sound real and heartfelt.

But lyrically, A Girl In Teen City is most likely to resonate with a female audience, and frankly that’s a brave move.  Made anodyne, it might have had wider appeal, but it’s likely to grate with male listeners, most of whom aren’t likely to be much impressed by tales of a female teenage heart.  ***

Review by Pete Whalley

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Pete Feenstra celebrated his 300th show in October 2019. Pete heads up a five-hour blues rock marathon when “Tuesday is Bluesday” from 19:00 GMT. Listen out also for his interview-based Feature show on Sundays (20:00 GMT)

Power Plays w/c 28 October (Mon-Fri)

COLLATERAL Mr Big Shot (Roulette Media Records)
BABY HUSBAND Stop Thinking About Tomorrow (indie)
OF ALLIES Off The Map (indie)
MARISA AND THE MOTHS – Slave (indie)
CATTLE AND CANE I Wish I Knew Jesus (Like I Do)
KING VOODOO Creep (indie)

Featured Albums w/c 28 October (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 UNRULY CHILD Big Blue World (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 REDLINE Gods & Monsters (Escape Music)
14:00-16:00 WILDWOOD KIN (Silvertone/Sony)

Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)

MAGNUM Sleepwalking (1992)

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