Thanks to the likes of Joanna Newsom the harp has seen an increasing appearance in modern music but even before the arrival of Joanna it was being put through some big innovational strides by Scottish harpist Corrina Hewat. Newer arrivals such as Catriona McKay (Starfish 2007) have continued to explore this ground making the Scottish harp a sexy sound that sounds as at home in jazz as it does in folk.
On the other side of the Atlantic the harp has also been creeping into music where you’d least expect to find it. Young Seattle based singer/songwriter Anna Cate releases her self-titled debut EP today on which she puts her harp through its paces using some of the familar seductive melodies we’ve grown to love about the instrument. On the opening track ‘This Old Radio‘ the track starts with just Anna and her harp her breathy vocals the perfect accompaniment, the track builds subtley with cello before the drums break the edge creating a sound that is not that dis-similar to Regina Spektor…groundbreaking though?
Considering it is her harp that will attract the curiosity of many new listeners it is not given anywhere near enough a prominent role: “It’s more of a wash of color, an embellishment, except for the beginning and ending of the songs”. This is a real shame as it would have been great to hear Anna singing more with just her harp and cello accompaniment as we do throughout the opening track which is by far the best track on this release. On the rest of the EP the best moments are often the openings but they gradually lose their magic as they head down the well trodden root of mainstream pop production. Let’s hope that once she is more established she will dare to tread the less trodden.