‘Heavenly cinematic, lyrically poignant and genuinely moving, it’s a stunning debut.’
Intro to Harrison Scarecrow
Recently signing to UK label Integrity Records – the team who brought you MALMØ and Ida Wenøe – the addition of Harrison Scarecrow only strengthens the roster of artists they represent. Hailing from Alabama, the duo consisting of Ryan Tomlin and Will McCracken deliver ‘Everyone with Someone’ – a debut that perfectly captures the sense of high quality, cinematic indie-noir they were aiming for. Recorded at Cypress Moon Studios – formerly Muscle Shoals Sound – you can almost hear the special history contained within the walls there. The likes of Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones and The Black Keys no less have all walked through those doors. Therefore, it’s no wonder that in being in such a place, and taking musical influence from the likes of Springsteen they have created a track that is just as special.
Instantly projecting a real sense of emotion, a mix of fading bass notes, arpeggiated chords and pain-tinged vocals greet us. It’s evocative, immediately moving and truly captivating. Equally, in opening with the intrigue filled line ‘Churchyard medicine and brown bag wine’ we realise that this isn’t going to be the typical, emotionally driven ballad style sound that so many other artists may opt for in a track of this ilk. That, not just here, but throughout the track is a very good thing. And, when you consider the intention of the track – to take us through a tale of broken dreams – it could easily be set in a self-indulgent, no hope way. But instead we have something quite the opposite.
Continuing through the first verse, an unexpected sense of progressive momentum lies at the heart of the sound we are hearing. Moving swiftly, and in a way that wonderfully links with the waves that lead the visual storytelling within the accompanying video, there is a sense of romantic, yet tempo pushing musicality. Above this though, there is a vocal story to be told and thanks to the incredibly heartfelt delivery, it requires little effort to connect with the lyricism. Additionally, with gentle pushes of emotion on ‘Dig your heart up throw your roses down’ the connection strengthens with every note.
Altering the atmosphere subtly, on arriving at the chorus the sense of movement brought by piano becomes enhanced in multiple ways. Affected most notably by the appearance of rhythmic floor tom, the ballad-esque sound begins to feel more like a reserved anthemic one. Pounding, but not overpowering, it sits wonderfully in the mix. Equally, in choosing to introduce strings in a barely-there manner, the softest of harmonic movements blend beautifully. As wonderful as these elements are though, with real poignancy carried in the title-led, message filled variations occurring in the lyrics, your focus remains centred on them.
Building on the musical sensations that have just occurred, moving through the following verse and the chorus return, the initially reserved sound starts to become more dramatic. However, while it does this, it keeps true to the opening atmosphere. Bringing delicacy through high-hat centred rhythms, there is a real lightness to the sound – both literally and in the musically sympathetic way they are played. Almost creating a juxtaposition with more down-trodden phrases such as ‘Green and broken the bottle was smashed against the street’, it seamlessly blends instrumental lightness with lyrical darkness. To do this in a way that sees both elements complement each other, provides the perfect realisation moment of just how accomplished Harrison Scarecrow’s sound is. What is soon to happen though makes you realise it even more.
Briefly breaking away from the vocally centred sound, having experienced the chorus for a second time the storytelling becomes less literal, but even more emotive. Generating a real sense of anticipation within the listener, after a short piano solo we surge off into the most moving of instrumental moments. Instantly cinematic in nature, the pounding momentum returns to drive the sound alongside chordal piano and guitar while dominant strings spine-tinglingly soar. Providing a wealth of rhythmic, harmonic, and melodic interest it truly sounds like it belongs in a film. Accompanying a scene towards the end where someone is chasing after the person they love, but are soon to lose perhaps.
Taking the sense of drama right to the conclusion, as the sound continues to grow it ignites a genuine emotion inside you. Stirring at every musical turn, it’s impossible to not be touched by what you are hearing. But no more is this the case than when the overlapping settings of ‘Not everyone gets to be with someone’ weave among their instrumental surroundings. It really is a moment of cinematic, musical beauty. Therefore it’s only right that, having built continually, it finishes, like the best open-ended films, in a manner that has us immediately wanting a sequel.