Katie Harkin has an impressive CV when it comes to making music, having formed her first band (Sky Larkin) at the age of eighteen, then releasing three critically acclaimed albums and a batch of equally revered singles and EPs in the process. She’s since gone on to play key roles both in the studio and live set up for Wild Beasts, become a touring member of Sleater-Kinney and Courtney Barnett’s band, yet still finds the time to put together her long awaited debut album as a solo artist.
Indeed, the seeds for Harkin were sewn as far back as 2015 when her cover of Apostle Of Hustle’s ‘National Anthem Of Nowhere’ appeared on ace Leeds label, Come Play With Me’s singles club. Since then, Harkin’s schedule has been incredibly busy, flitting between tours with her various other projects and finally adding the finishing touches to Harkin. Essentially, the first record to showcase Harkin’s talents as a songwriter of some distinction since Motto – the final and perhaps most understated of Sky Larkin’s three long players – back in 2013.
Having collaborated with a variety of artists both in the studio and on stage over the years, it shouldn’t come as any surprise to find some of Harkin’s acquaintances appearing on the record. Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner and Stella Mosgawa from Warpaint both contribute, while long established producer extraordinaire, Richard Formby, and one-time Sonic Youth associate, John Agnello cast their hands over the technical side in the studio.
Written and recorded in transit between tours, her former home in the Peak District and new residence of Upstate New York, Harkin is a diligently crafted body of work that was well worth the toil and endeavour. Its ten songs depicting an otherworldly view that starts in the tranquillity of the countryside and ends with the hustle and bustle of a busy city, Harkin takes the power of opposites and lays them side-by-side.
Musically ambiguous yet playfully ambitious, Harkin is every part the adventure its creator intended it to be. Whether that be the upbeat ‘Nothing The Night Can’t Change’, yearning opener ‘Mist On Glass’, introspective ‘New France’ or sonically exhilarating ‘Red Virginia Creeper’. Katie Harkin has assembled a diverse bag of delights here that delivers succinctly as a whole.
With over fifteen years experience in the business behind her, Harkin’s recognition as a songwriter of some repute is well overdue. As if any more proof were needed, Harkin exquisitely demonstrates those wares.
Harkin is out now via Hand Mirror.
Photo: Tomm Roeschlein