Brett Harris: Up in the Air

We soar with Harris up in the air, and are plummeted back to Earth with powerful emotion.

Brett Harris

Up in the Air

Label: Hit the Deck / Redeye
US Release Date: 2016-03-04
UK Release Date: 2016-03-04

North Carolina's Brett Harris has quietly offered us a considered and evocative collection of tracks on his second LP. More than a trace of 1960s pop radiates from the opening song of the record, “End of the Rope”, which balances syncopated rhythms, brass interjections and yearning vocals in crafty fashion. His upbringing in the choral circuit of the American “Bible Belt” has afforded Harris a velvety, yet powerful vocal style. The track also brings mind the early work of the Shins in its nods to psychedelic guitar sounds. Even though the energy of the album drops considerably after “End of the Rope”, these nods to 1960s psychedelia remain.

The very next track, “Don't Look Back” blends insistent beats with Shins-esque guitar sounds, making for a colourful sound. Whilst the more mellow tracks are a treat for fans of traditional singer-songwriter music, it's a slight shame that the vitality of “End of the Rope” is never quite replicated later in the record. The more subdued character of “Lies” does however allow for Harris' lyrical prowess to shine, but the track's momentum never quite gets going. The musings of the late Elliott Smith are alluded to on “Out of the Blue” with its simple melancholia and eclectic chord patterns.

Later on, “Summer Nights” sees Harris dabble in different stylings, introducing the track to us with jazz-style comps and leading us later to slightly funky bass guitar riffs. The album closes with references to Harris' church choir days on “Spanish Moss”, after having tried his hand at electronic sounds on “Shadetree”. Overall, what the album lacks in energy at its core, it certainly makes up for in deeply personal, profoundly affecting songwriting. If you aren't bothered by the petering out of momentum that this album is certainly guilty of, you're in for a real treat, as Harris gifts us with composition that can only be described as thoughtful.


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