Having heard Harriet Bartlett previously I was expecting a fairly traditional folk evening, comprising a lot of tunes with the occasional
traditional folk song thrown in. Anyway, I was wrong, I should have checked their web site!
They started off with a Dixie Chicks' number, "Cold Day in July", and then they did some tunes. But, straight back into contemporary American with a Tom Wait's number and then a few more country/contemporary songs, before finishing the first half with another set of tunes, which by now had the audience joining in with assorted percussion. So, far from being the very traditional folk evening that I had expected it was more a case of New Country meets Traditional Folk, and it worked well with a good variety of material. The formula was repeated in the second half with two sets of tunes and songs from songwriters such as Beth Nielsen Chapman and Julie Gold.
Musically they were very good, with Charlie's confident guitar accompaniment and Harriet's virtuoso
accordion playing, although during the songs it was the voices and harmonies which dominated, with the guitar providing the rhythm and the
accordion providing the mood to the music. The accordion playing really came to the fore in the sets of tunes, where Harriet revealed her true musical roots. It was apparent that they were each allowing the other to indulge in their own music and were both giving 100% support to the other. For Harriet it was the
traditional folk tunes, and for Charlie it was the anglo-american songs. This separation of styles
is good for the audience as both the country/contemporary fans and the traditional music devotees go away with something. Whilst this worked well, I couldn't help thinking that there is an opportunity for this duo to develop a really original sound of their own.
All in all it was a highly enjoyable evening, good music and a lot of friendly banter with the audience, from two very confident and accomplished artists who I am sure will be making a return to the club.