Ren Harvieu

Fri, May 25, 2012, 01:00

Through the NightIsland ***

Before hearing the long-awaited debut from this neophyte Manchester chanteuse, I came across a YouTube video of her singing, almost a capella, Roy Orbison’s dark tearjerker Crying in a club. The film quality is poor but Harvieu is darkly captivating, her voice a study in dramatic intensity. Signed at 18, she broke her back in an accident. Now 21 and recovered, Harvieu has finally released an album. It’s a stylised affair, perfectly retro- fitted with sweeping strings and bulging bras. The sleeve notes namecheck the Brill Building’s late ’50s/’60s tradition of lush female pop, but more current figures such as kd Lang come to mind, such is the range and character of Harvieu’s voice. Producer Jimmy Hogarth occasionally overeggs the pudding, but the retro arrangement of Walking in the Rain and Open Up Your Arms are bang on the money – although for me the modest country-soul thrill of Holding On serves her best.

Download tracks: Holding On, Walking in the Rain