A little night music


Posted by in May's Magazine

The first time I heard Ren Harvieu was a Monday afternoon on Radio 4. She was in the studio reviewing new music releases. Cheryl Cole’s latest offering was up first. “Um, yeah, it’s… alright?” was Ren’s evasive verdict, delivered in the softest Salford brogue. When pressed she added “Yeah, it’s OK, let’s leave it at that”

The next single played was Ren’s own ‘Open Up Your Arms’. The contrast was startling, from insipid, identikit banality to the lushest of pop sounds, Scott Walker band pomposity, graced with a glorious clear soul vocal. It was almost as if the radio producers scheduled the order on purpose.

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Ren’s reticence to criticize Cheryl music was also telling, her career is in it’s infancy, curtailed briefly by an horrific injury, she is now ready to release her delayed debut album. You can imagine how the 21 year old could think the Cole/Cowell cabal could help her nascent career. She’d already thoroughly embarrassed Cole by proxy when their records were played back to back. Happily there is nothing Cowell and his acolytes can do for Ren, her music transcends the shite he smears over the industry formally known as music. His is cynicism, Ren’s is artistry. She tells us she’s playing Glasgow’s King Tut’s in 2 days and these few minutes of radio time more than warrants a trip west.

The injury I have mentioned, but won’t dwell on. She broke her back and broke it badly. Ren takes the stage looking like a sheepish Jane Russell, assisted by a single crutch. Comparisons to Lana Del Rey’s murdered prom queen construct will be inevitable. Ren is close to Lana, playing a seductive Audrey Horne to Lana’s Laura Palmer iconography.

The crowd is littered with the faces of Glasgow’s music scene. It’s one of those gigs. She unconsciously brushes hair away from her face that doesn’t need brushing away, smiles at the floor and looks more than a little overawed. Then she sings and is transformed, the mike stand is used as a torch balladeer’s prop as well as a crutch, she has the air of confidence that is the preserve of those with true talent. Vampish, smoky eyes, a screen siren pout and a voice that stops you dead and holds you enthralled. Performing she is effortless and mesmeric, in between songs she is a nervous 21 year old who can’t quite believe she’s on a small stage in Glasgow and people have paid to see her. It’s something she’ll have to get used to as the stages and the audiences are only going to get bigger.

Info: The album Through The Night is available May 14

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