Harri Endersby is a young songwriter and musician who grew up in Co. Durham, and is still based in that locality. She claims to have been heavily influenced by the region's thriving folk scene, but to my ears this is not immediately apparent in either her writing or her chosen musical idiom. The only occasions when any kind of pastoral-rural folk inflection surfaces are on the opening and closing tracks: Intro is a mysterious, mesmerising drone-based reflection, and The Snow is a captivating pizzicato-fiddle-backed picture with building layered vocals. Elsewhere, rather than displaying any overt or specific regional folk influence, it's the pull exerted by the concept of home - with all its comforting connotations - and the contrary pole of the necessary personal journey away from home, that for much of the time proves central to Harri's lyrics. The voicing of this duality is especially poignant on the album's title song, which is couched in drifting, flowing music of great beauty, whereas the musical climate on several other tracks is more akin to that of Harri's special love, Icelandic electro-folk, from which she draws an essential sense of cool spaciousness (as on Bird & Whale, which is propelled along by steady pulsing electro-beats).
Homes / Lives is Harri's debut full-length release, and has been funded by a Kickstarter campaign. It capitalises on the success of her 2014 EP Ivy Crown, and contains ten songs written over the past two years as well as a revisit of one song from the EP (Bird & Whale). Harri's vocal phrasing conveys much in its economic gestures, although added (almost Roche-like) harmonies bring a richness of texture that complements the often sparse instrumental settings, which involve Rich Marsh (electric, acoustic and bass guitar) and Curtis Wayne Pierce Jnr. (drums, percussion, synth) as well as Harri herself. Songs like Laughter Lines and Hear gently entreat us to share in Harri's concerns, and we become similarly reassured, while the urgent pleading of Stay Awhile is set to a jittery, jumpy off-beat and Flesh & Bone is distinctly trippy. Homes / Lives is both a concept and a dilemma, the former giving rise to an intriguing and disarmingly personal record, shot through with emotional honesty and thoughtful reflection as well as the comfort of cautious contentment. Even so, it may take a while to yield up its charms, albeit not due to any deficiency in expressiveness.
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