Boosted by an impressive online following, Hours Awake is the mostly crowd funded debut album from up and coming singer-songwriter Rachel Croft. A popular emerging folk artist, Croft has proven quite the hit on the festival circuit, playing Beverley, Warwick, and Bromyard, as well as playing gigs in Ireland and the Netherlands. Hours Awake is a collection of the very first eleven songs written by Croft, between 2014 and 2017.
Old Climbing Tree opens the record with a Celtic feel and a vocal performance that is wonderfully understated, and yet not lacking for power. It sets the tone well for what follows, through more contemporary sounding tracks and the odd ballad, Croft's voice is at once delicate and strong, whether singing at little more than a whisper or really letting loose. Often Croft demonstrates her full range across a single song, such as in the excellent Ranier Day. It gives the album a classic feel to it, evocative and full of ethereal splendour.
The highlight of the album is either the first single, Only Dreams, or Hear Me which was the very first song she wrote. The production on both songs is superb, the melodies providing the perfect showcase for Croft's vocals. It's easy to see why Only Dreams is picking up a fair amount of airtime, including on BBC Radio 6. It's a slow-burner of a track, which just keeps on building throughout. It's a gorgeous song.
A lot of artists might shy away from putting their earliest creations out to the public, but it's easy to understand why Croft is confident in this album. All eleven tracks are very polished, and they don't have the feel of an artist trying to find their voice. These are well written, and sung beautifully. Croft's voice is certainly the star here, with a remarkable range that captures your attention and won't let go. If these are truly the first eleven songs she wrote, I can't wait to hear the next eleven.
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