Amy Winehouse and Adele were two sides of the same coin. While Adele covered the more mainstream side of their collective fan base, Amy’s Diva-ish qualities and sound had the harder nosed fans locked down. Amy Winehouse’s untimely passing has since left a huge gap, that so far is yet to be filled. With her debut album, ‘Forget Me Not’, Harleighblu is the UK’s first serious contender.
Her voice is striking, a high pitched wail with just enough raspiness weaved in, to sound right at home in the company of Joe Buhdha’s Funky Jazz-Hop-Soulscapes. For me though, the key ingredient is the air of vulnerability she shows throughout. When the albums’ pace slows down however, this comes to the fore in a big way. Over the smooth piano and jazz sweeps of “Love Of My Life“, followed by the slick rim shots and string ensemble that is “How Deep is Your Love”, this is what sets her apart from her peers.
Taking her under his wing and producing all the albums songs, Joe Buhdha has provided some memorable music for ‘Forget Me Not’ and it is clear that this was not simply a case of someone making beats and passing them along for completion. The synthetic nature found in much of today’s bigger releases is nowhere to be found and it is easy to hear the sessions that went in, to getting the desired sound just right. The live instruments and arrangement of “I Believe” is a joy and the contrast with the next two songs, the up tempo beat driven pair “Play Me” and “Who’s That Girl“, is sure to see fans from both sides of the ‘coin’ I mentioned earlier, making a bee line for this release.
With all these pluses there are a couple of minuses for me. She most definitely has the voice but some of Harleighblu’s lyrics are a little too simplistic in there approach to the subject matter, in comparison to the accompanying music. I can only put this down to the fact that Harleighblu’s love and life experiences don’t yet match the harder hitting emotion that some of Forget Me Not’s songs deserve. That will obviously come with experience, or there may well be experiences that she is not yet ready to share. Plus the keyboards Joe incorporates in parts on the albums opening song, “Enough Now”, sound detached from the rest of the song and should have been left out altogether. Although if I am honest, I may be being a little pedantic about that one.
Overall, this is an album that should stand the test of time and hearing Harleighblu perform this album backed by a full live band is something, I fully intend to experience. Joe Buhdha’s Hip Hop laced style is a great match for his protege and as good as this debut is, the potential for greatness is obvious. This is a young lady who can get to the very top on both sides of the Atlantic. Amy’s heir apparent?….. We shall see.