There’s something familiar behind everything on the gorgeous new album from Newburgh, NY’s Native Harrow. Yet, originality twists through it all, providing a fresh voice for the indie-folk world to fall in love with.
A flourish of drums and guitar get the album started with a surprising, and refreshing, kick to the ear. Devin Tuel’s voice brings to mind Joni Mitchell, though she doesn’t allow the comparison to define her or the music.
The Mitchell likeness might come through clearest in “Blue Canyon,” appropriately a love song of sorts for California. Jazz colors the edges of the title track, and “Hard to Take,” with a slight nod to Van Morrison via Ryley Walker. “Something You Have” injects a gospel-fueled soul, powered by some well-placed B3 organ. The energy of the set peaks with earthbound jazz-rock fusion on “Round to Round” that brings to mind the criminally underrated Arc Iris.
Happier Now cements itself as a great album by saving the best for last. “Way To Light,” a sarcastic fantasy about the love of material goods, is a building slow burn, with a hint of “Dear Prudence” and some fantastically eerie slide guitar.
Devin Tuel wrote Happier Now‘s nine songs while constantly touring the country in 2017. The songs center around Tuel growing through her twenties and maturing as a human of her own making, no longer encumbered by the strict ballerina life set out for her since she was just three. When it came time to record with Alex Hall (JD McPherson, The Cactus Blossoms, Pokey LaFarge) at Chicago’s Reliable Recorders, Tuel and her trio tracked live in the same room, later adding minimal overdubs. The immediacy and intimacy comes through in the final product. Happier Now is an album to enjoy thoroughly in the present, but also hopefully a sign of great things to come from this budding artist.
Key tracks: Happier Now, Round and Round, Way To Love