Album Review: Hattie Briggs – Red & Gold

Red & Gold

hattie briggs red and goldReleased April 6th

Words: Julia Grantham

The stunning debut from folk singer-songwriter Hattie Briggs has quite an apt title for such a colourful and rich album. Hattie’s voice is very soulful and although everything that a female folk artist usually encapsulates; still manages to be fresh and irresistible at the same time. Comparisons can be made to Amy MacDonald, Florence & The Machine, and perhaps Alison Krauss on occasion too. However, Briggs’ songs remain her own and as such, have their own sense of originality; combining beautifully clear vocals with crisp and tuneful melodies.

Opening track Pull Me Down, is a lovely ensemble combining a piano with strings and vocals; a poignant whimsical tale of unrequited love. The song starts slowly, with simple piano chords and Briggs’ voice. In comes the subtle addition of strings, before adding percussion. What makes it such a powerful album opener is the huge crescendo towards the end which turns a simple folk song into a explosive ballad. A sensational start.

By comparison, tracks such as Still With Hope I See is a slow number, using just a simple piano melody, and strings in places. It is wistful, simple and yet full of hope and whimsy. A Beautiful Mind has very obvious country influences, merged with folk-style harmonies. This track could be taken straight from an Alison Krauss album, and yet Briggs makes this country/folk sound her own. Just when you think you know the direction the song will take, it flits between being a classic country track, to a traditional female folk number; a clever technique which makes the tune as unique as it is engaging.

Share Your Heart is another track full of poignancy and longing. A song desperately describing a journey of self-discovery. Immediately engaging, full of melancholy and yet energetic all the same. The chorus is haunting, appearing to be almost a cautionary tale but with a beautiful melody. The second stand-out track and perhaps by own personal favourite track is Happy in Your Arms, a sweepingly epic number, slow in tempo but full of purpose and ballad-like as if it could be a title track for a film soundtrack. Powerful in its delivery, defiant in its message, and as with every song on the album; showcasing perfectly the accomplished and talented voice of this young singer-songwriter.

Towards the end of the album, Hattie Briggs also includes her own rendition of the Eva Cassidy classic Fields of Gold. It is a brave artist who dares to cover such a well-known and well-loved classic and yet Briggs is a worthy contender. Her voice elevates the melody to new heights. Her energy is clear from the start, making it immediately obvious that she has given this song everything she has, and it really showcases what a beautiful talent she is. Her voice does the song credit, revealing what an incredible singer she is, and yet somehow her own version doesn’t take away from the original; not an easy thing to achieve and yet she manages it both wonderfully and effortlessly.

2015 is set to be a fantastic year for Hattie Briggs. With a Young Folk Award nomination under her belt, a string of gigs set for later this spring and a debut album just released, she is sure to go from strength to strength. Watch this space.

Watch the video for A Beautiful Mind here:

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