Mature Americana from Brighton’s lady-to-watch Hayley Ross
Release Date: 9th November 2020
Label: Barracuda Recordings
The name Hayley Ross is a new one to me. She’s a Brighton-based singer-songwriter, a music graduate of Goldsmith’s College, London, who released her debut album The Weight of Hope in February of this year. The lead track of this new EP is just one of the outstanding tracks from that debut album. The musical style is predominantly swampy Americana with a pleasant folky twist and the songs are delivered in a voice that flits between frail and mature, and is pleasingly husky. As I listened, I felt a certain familiarity, yet I struggled to understand why – then it came to me… I’d detected a remarkable similarity between Hayley’s voice and songwriting and elements of Tanita Tikaram’s 1988 Ancient Heart album. I hope that helps.
The EP’s title track opens with an echoey Shadows-like guitar lick and the song chugs along nicely. Hayley’s vocal is right up at the front of the mix and her frailty and passion shine through. There’s some tasty slide guitar work and a marvelously escapist lyric and the backing of plodding bass and thudding drums provide a wonderfully atmospheric feel. The American desert road scenes, interspersed with mad shadow sequences in the dreamy video that accompanies the song captures that atmospheric feel perfectly.
Second track, All These Things, is softer, slower and rootsier, but retains the swampy feel and serves up more electrifying guitar breaks. It’s a song of love gone wrong and, once again, Hayley’s vocal matches the anguish of the lyrics.
This short set closes with Hope I’m Wrong, a finger-picked acoustic guitar song and a significant departure from the earlier electric fare. Hayley sounds like a huskier Joni Mitchell and her vulnerability is emphasized by the subtle use of the cello that sits behind the guitar and vocal in the mix. A lovely song to complete an enjoyable EP.
Hayley Ross is starting to make waves. The Weight of Hope gathered deserved plaudits following its release in February and this EP (the songs were written at around the same time as the songs that made the album cut) carries on the progress. We can expect to hear a lot more of Hayley Ross.
See the official video to Moving All Around here: