The problem with waiting for something that you really want is that the expectation builds it up into something that it can never be – you ask for a bike for Christmas in July and by the time dear old Santa is ready to drop it off, the fact that it is not the 60 geared chopper behemoth you have crafted in your mind’s eye means it cannot fail to be a disappointment.
So it goes with Salford chanteuse Ren Harvieu’s debut offering, Through The Night. Due last summer, it was delayed by a horrific accident that left the singer with a broken back and the possibility of never walking again.
Thankfully, rehabilitation and grim determination have Ren back on her feet and back singing, which is nothing short of amazing news. The delay for such things to come to pass though meant that anyone who had got a whisper of her talent or caught her stunning cover of Roy Orbison’s Crying online was hanging on the line, waiting for fulfilment of expectation to arrive. Inevitably, Through The Night does not live up to the hype and delivers a stuttering, soulful debut, rather than a sparkling and spectacular one.
Its problems lie not in performance – Harvieu’s voice is remarkable, both engagingly warm and achingly lonely at the same time – but in the songwriting at the base of it all, which is as much miss as hit.
In fact, the album splits firmly between those songs that are magnificently majestic and those that are hopelessly mundane.
On the plus side, the title track is phenomenal, all glitter and power and desperate soulful need, while album opener Open Up Your Arms is as glimmering, glowing and glorious a torch song as you could ask for.
Elsewhere, not everything is so fantastic. Too often, Harvieu and her songwriters – which include Zutons singer-cum-nightclub brawler Dave McCabe and Scouse also-ran Howie Payne – fall into simply aping the 60s sound they are all so obviously in love with.
Proceedings are saved by Love Is A Melody, one of two songs (the other being that title track) written with the always excellent Ed Harcourt, which closes the album with a beautiful sing-song meander.
Through The Night could never have matched the hype around Harvieu, but for it to have not come close is a surprise. There is no doubting she has a tremendous voice and talent – she just needs to make sure that next time, she lends it to songs written by people of equal ability.