‘Young Runaway’, the sophomore album from British artist Hattie Briggs, is an epic masterpiece. The follow-up to the excellent, ‘Red & Gold’, released last year, it is proof that there is still much more to come from this talented singer songwriter.
The eleven song album follows as one of its themes the idea of taking risks and making decisions based on what makes you happy. Hattie herself made a life changing decision to leave her Russian degree course at Oxford to become a full time musician, and the quality of the songs, with a style somewhere between Americana and Pop, certainly indicate that she’s made the right choice.
Opening with the delicate and somewhat ethereal, ‘The Lake’, we’re set up for what is to follow. It’s an introduction to the story Hattie tells of her journey. ‘Lift Me Up’, one of several straight country songs on the album, is a love song of sorts, showcasing the strength of Hattie’s sweet, clear voice.
“Here’s To Hoping’, the first single released from the album, has echoes of artists such as Peggy Seeger and Eva Cassidy in its style, which is no surprise when it’s considered that these are two of the artists who have inspired Briggs. In fact, Eva’s brother, Dan, plays strings on the album, bringing the link even closer. The title, ‘Young Runaway’ is itself derived from a James Taylor lyric, another whose influence Hattie has incorporated into her songwriting.
‘On Your Way’, is a more uptempo song, and marks a change of mood in the album, bringing in a male backing vocal. The next song, our favourite on the album, the boppy and fun, ‘Digging To Australia’, is a gorgeous and hopeful folk song, with even a slight tropical vibe to it. We feel it’s the stand out song of the entire album.
‘Summertime Man’ is lyrically diverse and beautiful: lines such as “Head for the coast make the most of your family” trip off Hattie’s tongue easily, making it clear that she was born to this. Her professionalism and very obvious talent make this album a pleasure to listen to.
The dark and dramatic, ‘Talk To Me’ is another departure on the album for Hattie, with unusual instrumentation and an echoed vocal. It’s probably the most pop of all the tracks, and ranks highly (after ‘Digging To Australia’) as our favourite song on ‘Young Runaway’.
Overall, ‘Young Runaway’ is a credit to Hattie’s skills as a vocalist and instrumentalist (she plays both guitar and ukulele on the album) and the production talents of Peter Waterman and his assistant producer Warren Bassett, who also mixed and mastered the album.
Watch this beautiful live video of ‘Here’s To Hoping’: