Don’t Remember EP
26 October 2015
Some of you may have been fortunate enough to catch Exeter Graduate Jonny Harrison’s intimate debut of his EP Don’t Remember at the end of October in Cavern – the perfect kind of intimate setting to show off his singer-songwriter capabilities. If you want to get clued up on local music, this is the EP to check out.
The opening track ‘Little White Flags’ is unusual mix of old newsreel and catchy guitar that is intriguing enough to draw in the listener. The song is a mash-up of guitar and percussion that combine to create a folky feel that is reminiscent of how some of our favourite stars of the folk-pop world, such as Jake Bugg, Lewis Watson or even Ed Sheeran, started out. Added to this is the admission by Harrison that the EP was “written in rooms of varying tidiness”, an idea that I find rather endearing; I’m sure, like the afore-mentioned, Harrison may well find himself in studios of varying tidiness soon enough instead.
Harrison’s voice sits somewhere between singing and talking, evoking the Irish oral tradition of craic, or the spoken performance of stories, poems…
His musical competence is further demonstrated in the title track, ‘Don’t Remember’ which shows off his guitar work to great effect, building in intensity to create one of the strongest tracks on the EP. The next two tracks, ‘A Simple Mistake’ and ‘Eveline (A Poem set in Dublin)’ both epitomise the experimental nature of the EP. ‘A Simple Mistake’ includes unusual echo effects that add an extra layer to the track; he is singing of “a simple mistake” made, and the echo is suggestive of the overthinking and replaying of the situation we all put ourselves through, making the track an extremely relatable one.
Similarly experimental, ‘Eveline (A Poem set in Dublin)’ is perhaps the most interesting listen on the EP. It is based upon ‘Eveline’, a poem by James Joyce. The song opens by sampling a reading of the poem by Miriam Gallagher, and it was this recording that inspired Jonny to do his own rendition, basing his lyrics on the tale of love and loss. Again, the originality here is striking – Harrison’s voice sits somewhere between singing and talking to the listener, which evokes the Irish oral tradition of craic, or the spoken performance of stories, poems, gossip and suchlike. Combined with the use of haunting strings and piano, the song lingers long after listening.
Harrison is prepared to make himself vulnerable, and it pays off beautifully.
But Harrison has saved the best until last. ‘Weird Kind of Hatred’ is beautiful, and in many ways is the strongest both lyrically and musically on the EP. It is a song about breaking up and having to learn to let go; the lyrics are obviously very personal, as seen in the lyric “I want to mean this sincerely”. Harrison is admitting in a painfully honest, and touchingly thoughtful way, that post-break up feeling we all know but seldom like to admit – that feeling of still loving but also hating the other person for being able to hurt you. Harrison is prepared to make himself vulnerable, and it pays off beautifully.
Overall, this is a highly accomplished and intellectual debut EP – if not quite polished – that holds promise for what is yet to come. It is refreshing that Harrison is willing to experiment with unusual techniques, textures and sounds, and if you want to try something new and appreciate a little local music, Don’t Remember may just be the perfect EP for you.