Anyone up for a 21 year old chanteuse from Lancashire…?
Katherine St Asaph: Hey, BBC dipshits: I realize your longlist needs Windex for its Skrillex, but Adele didn’t break because she sounded like Norah Jones. I hear this, and my blood turns to chamomile.
Alfred Soto: I’m not especially titillated by Beth Orton singing atop an Amy Winehouse backing track.
Doug Robertson: There’s obviously a vacancy for a new Amy Winehouse, so it’s no surprise to find someone stepping up to the plate with a suitably diva-ish voice and a sound so retro that it‘s amazing it can even be converted into mp3 format. Let’s just hope the industry has learnt it’s lesson and doesn’t fuck her life up in exchange for avoiding a few refunds and feeding the ever-hungry media circus.
Anthony Easton: Gorgeous, sumptous chanteusery, sort of like mid-career k.d. lang, with all the erotic longing that that implies. The production is a bit overwhelming, causing her voice to work against the track in ways that are a little frustrating. The ooo-oos near the end of the track balance the work in her favour.
Michaela Drapes: It’s funny how these things work — Harvieu seemingly trucks in the same sort of innoffensive retro-schlock of Adele and this week’s previously-lamented Michael Kiwanuka. And yet! Here I am, about to convince you that Ren Harvieu’s perfectly-executed impersonation of Ingenue-era k.d. lang (sorry, not falling into Dusty, Cilla, Lulu, and Sandie trap on this one) is perfectly acceptable — actually really, really good, even. (Look, she even does Roy Orbison covers, too!) So, um, if this cuts my credibility in any way, I’ll gladly take the hit.
Brad Shoup: I see she’s got a cover of “Crying” on YouTube, which definitely computes; “Through the Night” relies on pre-rock torchiness and a layer of smooth-voiced backing gentlemen. The song hits an emotional topnote when everyone moans, boxed in by the smothering strings. Harvieu tries to match volume with volume, but the producer just dumps some trumpets on her.
Iain Forrester: The contrast between the confident swing of the music and Ren’s petrified, smoky “I’m so nervous/Don’t know what I’m supposed to do” makes for a fantastic beginning. Then the verse closes with “I love you” which is an even better bittersweet twist. The chorus and the strings that smother it are both total overkill, but there’s still enough evidence in the song to make me a little interested to hear more from her.
John Seroff: I beg to differ with Monsieur Iain; this is epitome de pente, a song so bound to mediocrity and resistant to criticism that it seems new at the start of each play and already forgotten by the end.
Pete Baran: Go directly to Radio 2, do not pass go, do not collect £200.