Formerly one half of Stroud duo Ardyn, whose output was limited to a smattering of releases a couple of years back, Katy J Pearson is returning from something of a creative and commercial hiatus. Now standing on her own feet as a solo artist, albeit with a supporting band, Pearson’s recent signing to the Heavenly Recordings stable hopefully marks the beginning of a new chapter in her career.
“Katy J Pearson is a great fit for the Heavenly roster and tonight’s respectful crowd are clearly eager to see some releases very soon.”
If Ardyn’s staple was in the main a slant on dream pop, Pearson’s solo incarnation is much more low-key and pastoral affair. While her distinctive voice remains the most arresting feature of her sound, her trademark melodies are now delivered in a more direct and at times stripped down style incorporating piano and alternating picked and jangly guitar rather than the more nebulous flow of the Ardyn offerings.
Now Bristol-based, Pearson is showcasing promising new material with regular support slots around the city, tonight’s slot effectively a warm-up for the Heavenly Weekender in Leeds next weekend. Katy J Pearson is a great fit for the Heavenly roster and tonight’s respectful crowd are clearly eager to see some releases very soon.
Harriette Pilbeam, in her artist persona as Hatchie, is making her West Country bow; fresh from a successful North American tour and a couple of dates in her native Australia. With her debut album release Keepsake due to drop within days, also on the Heavenly label, tonight is an eagerly-awaited opportunity to hear live takes on some new material.
“It’s a tasty dish made from the highest quality ingredients… the result is pretty intoxicating and, like the best recipes, exceeds the sum of its component parts.”
Hatchie’s sound is hard to describe with anything approaching accuracy. It’s a tasty dish made from the highest quality ingredients; pinches of M83, Saint Etienne and Hope Sandoval, a spoonful of The Sundays, a soupçon of Heaven or Las Vegas-era Cocteau Twins and stirred with My Bloody Valentine-style slide guitar swells. The result is pretty intoxicating and, like the best recipes, exceeds the sum of its component parts.
Tonight’s collection of songs is finely balanced, oscillating between Hatchie’s first candy-dream-pop releases towards the more introspective territory of the new Keepsake compositions. Pilbeam’s vocal is on point right from the off, which is initially a relief and then increasingly a joy across an excellent ten track setlist.
“Hatchie’s performance is an eyes-wide-open front-up which blurs confident and confidential.”
Hatchie is an arresting live performer. Toting her bass guitar like a millennial Kim Gordon, Hatchie’s performance is an eyes-wide-open front-up which blurs confident and confidential. There’s something engagingly normal about her and her partner Joe Agius, who with Pilbeam shapes the Hatchie vision and provides the bedrock to the live creations. Agius puts in a busy shift; alternating seamlessly between guitar, keys and programming, while additional guitar and drums add breathing organic sheen which brings life to a fundamentally digital sound.
Older material is enthusiastically received. Songs like Try, Sleep and Sure simmer along on big melodic choruses and ripples of youthful optimism, while ballad Bad Guy is a quiet heartbreaker that reverses the coin: “You could be the bad guy, I could be the bad guy, anyway you wanna try, doesn’t make us feel right.”
“Hatchie is beginning to unfurl the kind of versatility which audiences need to see from an enduring artist.”
The new material tonight is immaculate. Her Own Heart and Kiss The Stars are both gazey imaginings of a long-established indie-jangle template; the reverb-laden guitars and vocals of the latter melding into an intoxicating cloud of sound. More than a tunesmith and writer of a catchy chorus, Hatchie is beginning to unfurl the kind of versatility which audiences need to see from an enduring artist.
The first releases from Keepsake have already been enough to announce Hatchie as a name to watch. In tonight’s closer Stay With Me, she has also possibly already written a signature tune. It’s out of kilter with her style but still slots in like it has always belonged there. The crowd are sent home on the song’s euphoric crescendo.
In a fair world, Hatchie would deserve to be a global sensation. No wonder we’re smiling in our sleep.
Try, Obsessed, Sugar & Spice, Her Own Heart, Kiss The Stars, Bad Guy, Sleep, Without a Blush, Sure, Stay With Me.
The album Keepsake is released on 21 June 2019 on Heavenly Recordings.
Words: Iain Dalgleish
Photo Credits (all Instagram):
@miserygalore, @robwatts88, @idalgleish.