Fiona Harte’s new and awaited EP ‘Home Recordings’ is another thing to add to lockdown virtues. The Tyrone born songwriter has spent the past few years garnering a small bank of successful singles including 2018’s ‘White Picket Fence’ which stands at over 1 million streams on Spotify alone. In April this year she released a self titled EP for EMI UK under the name Fiona Bernadette Harte but it is this upcoming EP which will remain her debut in her own name. Written in its entirety over the months in quarantine, the four tracks offer a chilled, low energy insight into Harte’s lockdown musings. With her summer once full of plans for a tour and gigs as far-stretching as Nashville, Tennessee, Harte’s revised time featured long walks and an exploration of new music.
“I was inspired by these trying times and decided to start a project during the isolation period; writing and recording songs from my bedroom, no studio, no band, just me. During this period where we can’t get out to studios, this project is DIY and has a live feel”. With an intent when it comes to songwriting, Harte delves into mellow metaphor and poetic symbolism within her songs. Influenced by the likes of Joni Mitchell, Carole King and Dolly Parton, Harte is a prime example of the country folk genre that flourishes so well in the counties west of the Bann. “My songs are acoustic and often end up on emotional or chill listening playlists.”
‘Home Recordings’ as a whole is something of give a little, get a little. The stripped back, 4 track EP showcases Harte’s soulful voice against singular instrumentals. The halting tempo of the tracks allows cohesive flow throughout the entire record which easily ties the songs together. If versatility is lacking, it does not take away from Harte’s soaring vocals or the intimacy of acoustic guitar and piano. ‘Auburn’ was released as a single in May. It casts a contemplative metaphor over lockdown and a romanticisation of things overlooked. Harte said of her song “it’s about always thinking the grass is greener elsewhere”. Its lyrics hint at the loneliness of a forced separation (“you forgot where we were walking / so you took to the sky / I can’t blame the birds for leading you astray / I would too if I had my way”). Ever the creative, Harte arranged the music video as a collaborative effort for her fans across the world, “I asked dancers in lockdown to video themselves dancing to my new song”, editing this together thus added to Harte’s lockdown tasks.
‘Have You Ever Seen The Rain’ is a slowed down and spotlighted cover of Creedance Clearwater Revival’s 1971 single. Both it and Harte’s own single ‘Sugar Coating’, acting as the second and third tracks offer lone instrumentals. The former features piano keys to match the tinkling sound of rainfall, contrary to the guitar, drum and bass set up of the original. The latter incorporates bird song sampling with acoustic guitar. But, it is the final track which stands out. ‘What Is Loving Anymore’ finishes the record with uncertainty. What on the surface sounds like a sweet duet love song gives way to lyrical romantic discernment. The song tracks a fall out from love blindness “I put all my dreams in you” to an asking of new questions “for some odd reason / I’m done believing with this one” / “I set the bar so high above the sky and you nailed it to the floor”. It is a less than optimistic point to conclude the EP but one that gives way to a more complex, upbeat rhythm and places the aforementioned country influence to the foreground.
With new hope of an Autumn tour following the record’s release, Harte remains hardworking. She has contributed to livestreamed music festivals, solo covers and group arrangements such as a Theodora Byrne’s rendition of Maria Kelly’s Stitches. Her steady hand maintains control over her own art in such precarious times.