Arriving in time to entice us into the upcoming summer months ‘The One for Me’ is the second album from Jazz singer Harriet Eaves. Before I run through the album tracks let’s take a little time to and get to know Harriet Eaves. Ms Eaves has already served a fantastic apprenticeship in the world of music and performing.
Harriet originally trained as a classical musician at Chetham’s School of Music. Her experiences thereafter paint a colourful canvas. She has performed in some of the UK’s top venues, including the Royal Albert Hall, M.E.N. Arena, Cardiff Millennium Centre and Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. In 2012, Harriet has toured with the band James as featured soloist and performed backing vocals for the likes of Tim Burgess and Electric Light Orchestra.
Harriet’s international debut was in Trinidad and Tobago, where she performed as a Jazz Soloist performing for The Queen and delegates from over 50 states during the bi-annual Commonwealth Conference.
Harriet has performed with The University of Manchester Big Band at Manchester’s Club Academy and The Lost Theatre, London. She regularly performs in her Jazz duo with renowned pianist Nathan Jarvis, performing at venues such as Jazz After Dark, The House of Tippler, The Bridge House and at the Crystal Palace Festival, In November 2013 she recorded a live session at Croydon Radio becoming the station’s first artist to reach 1000 downloads in just one week, reaching almost 4,000 downloads to date.
So as you can all see, Ms Eaves has certainly paid her early dues to the industry.
So on the album itself. “The One For Me” is a fabulous listening experience. From my point of view it stands out because Ms Eaves is not only a Jazz singer but also a British, home grown Jazz singer. With offerings such as this it will be just a short amount of time before she establishes herself as the foremost jazz vocalist in the UK.
The set opens with “Love, Love, Love” in which Harriet lets her man know how she feels whilst allowing the listener to initially savour the vocal performance but then be drawn in to not only sing along but swing too. A wonderfully simple lyric given a fun jazzy vocal.
Then follows George Shearings ode to Charlie Parker, “Lullaby of Birdland.” Sung by notable greats such as Ella Fitzgerald; Harriet sings her version with accomplished polished tones and to paraphrase the song itself – “That’s the kind of magic music we make with our lips” Which she certainly does.
The album title “The One for Me” comes rolling on the back of a crisp driving piano riff which is accompanied by Harriet’s vocals that serve to drive the tempo of the number with the urgings of a seemingly desperate plea to let her man know that he’s the one. I confess I LOVE this track to pieces.
Harriet then strips things back with the sultry” Peel me a Grape” This track shows off her obvious versatility as it invokes that smoke filled bar with the Blues singer telling all and sundry just how she feels and how she should be treated. It is a fantastic treat that you really listen to and feel.
The second half of the EP carries on with “Get in my Way” which is a pleasant enough track and deserves repeated listening before passing judgement. Some wonderful vocal runs and sweet harmonies are there in. A pleasing showcase for Harriet’s vocal talents whilst, in my limited opinion, not taxing her too much.
For me it is a brave singer that attempts Billie Holidays timeless “God Bless the Child” Clearly Harriet is a brave lady. I suppose that if you’re a jazz singer this is where you have to go to truly test yourself. Well Ms Eaves carries the classic fabulously well. A smooth, slightly understated vocal that remains emotionally charged throughout draws you right in. Harriet makes it her own as they say, and I am pleased to report that this is a mesmerising rendition of the jazz classic. This is, in my humble opinion, destined for millions of plays across the various broadcast mediums for years to come.
Harriet then takes things up a notch and has some fun with Britney’s “Toxic” What Harriet does here is not only put a clever jazz spin on this; thereby turning it on its head. But still manages to maintain the raunchy, sexually charged feel of the original. By the end you forget that it started life as a dance/pop track and this version sticks in your memory. Great job Ms Eaves.
The set closes with “Can’t take my eyes off of you”. Harriet drops the tempo down and once you’ve suppressed the urge to stand, wave your arms and sing-a-long as you would to the Frankie or Andy versions; this turns into a wonderfully heartfelt love song. At times she slips on the soul singers mantle to accomplish the emotion of the tune but slips effortlessly back into bluesy jazz mode throughout. In one word ‘BRILLIANT’.
In an industry where gimmicks and trends on a theme come and go it is both heartening and refreshing to see and hear someone making an effort to stick to their musical guns and plough a furrow for themselves (and the genre itself). I believe that with this offering Harriet Eaves is making a loud and clear musical statement. Jazz music is still here and has its place amongst contemporary mainstream music. And boy is she bringing it!!
Just for reference I find that Harriet has a fresh, unique style of her own which is imbued with such clarity it flows effortlessly like the proverbial stream. If I was forced to find a likeness I’d say she has a tone somewhere between Julie London, Lena Horne and Norah Jones. That is, like I said, ONLY if I HAD to find comparison. Otherwise Ms Eaves is refreshingly different in her delivery.
“The One for Me” is a collection of quality songs given life and soul by Harriet Eaves’ cool, measured and at times sassy voice which is made even more accomplished and enjoyable by the blues and soul edge; that she has in her overall delivery. This is stuff for the summer yes, but also for that lovely bottle of red curled up in front of the fire during autumn or winter. This album deserves purchasing and will not leave your playlists anytime soon.
To learn more about Harriet Eaves click: http://www.harrieteaves.co.uk/
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W| By Ian Birthwright @BrooklynFlyer