Review Summary: The Oxford-based musician, Bethany Weimers, succeeds admirably in displaying her talent as a singer-songwriter on her debut album after several years of playing small shows and festivals.
Bethany Weimers is one of the best discoveries I have managed to stumble upon in recent times. Listening to Harpsichord Row for the first time, I actually assumed Weimers to be a fairly established musician considering the high quality of both the compositions and their execution and was therefore rather shocked to discover that I was probably one of the first people in Finland to have even heard of her.
Stylistically we are in melancholic folky territories, but mixed with some pop sentiment that comes through especially in the choruses. It reminds me a bit of classic Joni Mitchell with a touch of PJ Harvey thrown into the mix. Weimers relies mostly on her acoustic guitar and piano to do the instrumentation while her expressive voice is the main focus. To spice up the performance, she also uses multiple tracks of backing vocals and well placed harmonies throughout the album, making the end result rather mesmerising and in part distinguishing her sound from her influences.
Additional electric guitar is provided by Mark Stow on two of the tracks, of which the album closer 'Protect' is also one of the definite highlights with its beautiful layered vocals. Other particularly memorable moments include the opener 'Silver Moon' with its hypnotising keyboard melody, and the dark and dramatic '30000 Days'.
Apparently recorded in a bedroom, the album nevertheless sounds absolutely professional and the stripped down production compliments the haunting atmosphere of the songs very well and represents Bethany's versatile voice with clarity that makes picking up the lyrics just by listening easy. There is still some rawness to be spotted at places, but that perhaps only adds to the charm; folk music is not meant to sound completely sterile after all.
At 35 minutes, Harpsichord Row is not a long album, but it does not contain any filler either. Every track is a tightly arranged package with captivating melodies and vocal hooks evenly spread on all ten pieces making you never feel like skipping a song. There is also a fair amount of variety going on with more up-beat and bright tracks like '1784' balancing the mostly sombre mood.
If you enjoy melodic folk or just well-performed female vocals over acoustic instrumentation, there is no reason not to give this little album a listen. It would be a shame for this very impressive debut to get completely overlooked by its potential audiences, which I am sure could be plentiful.