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This is the first time I've featured Ren Harvieu since her deserved spot in the (besides Niki & The Dove not particularly to my taste) BBC Sound of 2012 Poll, the reason for the delay simple, it took until last week to hear new material from her (released in the form of her new single "Open Up Your Arms"). Perhaps the poppiest track we've heard from Ren thus far, there is certainly less of the smooth, soul grove that sheens on "Through the Night" or restrained beauty that is "Forever In Blue".
Nevertheless "Open Up Your Arms" is a gorgeous, melodramatic ballad that peaks with soaring orchestrated arrangements, backing choir and saxophone, her voice is (of course) what shines through, delivering where few have recently, I'd go so far to say she's got the strongest voice in pop today (I'm sure some Adele fans might disagree). Whether Ren's music is a little too nostalgic jazz club for the mainstream is yet to be seen but I can't help but think super stardom beckons (though I did say that 11 months ago now)...
I've also included two 'new' covers, Ren first caught the attention of many with her cover of a legendary song, "Cryin'" by Roy Orbison and since she's tackled two more, "Something" by The Beatles and "Sister Morphine" by The Rolling Stones, both bold choices. On the former you get to hear a bit of her (typical) Northern accent before with seeming effortless ease she tackles the track, her rich and smooth (and not so typical) vocals backed by gentle acoustic guitar melodies and restrained double bass plucks, its beautiful, understated nature brings out everything I've grown to love about the Lancashire lass. The best though is the latter, a poignant song for Ren given her own battles with a serious spinal injury and subsequent recovery, her version of "Sister Morphine" is nothing short of stunning, stopping you dead in your tracks with her emotional delivery, her voice is simply from the heavens.
'Through The Night' is finally released on April 23rd and can be pre-ordered here. Ren is on tour in early April, the London show is already sold-out (full dates).