Random Access Memories
We're not exactly short of retro female singers here in Britain, but Ren Harvieu's causing a bit of a buzz.
The 21-year-old from Salford was a contender for the BBC's Sound of 2012 poll and is tipped as a rawer proposition than the Radio 2-friendly likes of Duffy and Rumer. She's got the patronage of ex-Smith Johnny Marr after all – who stepped in with some kind words when Harvieu broke her spine in a freak accident last year – and this debut album features heavy input from members of untamed indie bands The Zutons and The Stands.
Oddly though, none of these collaborators, none of this chatter makes the slightest difference. Harvieu has a warm, lived-in voice but the songs and arrangements are – by and large – ordinary. Lush strings and showy horns are on the menu, making a striptease of the jazzy Tonight and letting Open Up You Arms and Twist The Knife bob along unremarkably.
All this empty bluster relegates half the album to background music, but a mix of country swing and southern soul makes Walking In The Rain a Glen Campbell-esque beauty, and the ghost of Roy Orbision haunts the lovely final pair, Summer Romance and Love Is A Melody. Harvieu's got something, sure, but as yet it's not quite enough.