Harriet Bartlett,
Eyes Wide Open
(Greentrax, 2004)

There was a time when the definition of a gentleman was "one who can play the accordion but doesn't." Listen to this lady play that instrument and you'll learn how false that definition is. Harriett Bartlett has played the instrument for eight years and is brilliant. She defies expectations by opening the CD with a slow tune before segueing into a jig. I have aching neck muscles from nodding along with the track as I type.

Harriet brings her accordion virtuosity to a number of excellent tunes on this CD. One of the greatest is "Ashokan Farewell" and I was delighted to hear this rendition.

But Harriet is not just a top-class player, she is also a beautiful singer. Sounding somewhat like Kate Rusby, she brings a lovely innocent sound to her vocal offerings. The first of these is Richard Thompson's classic "Crazy Man Michael."

She is also a very capable composer and her tune "The Roses" is a joy to hear. Apparently being presented with a bouquet after a performance inspired the melody. So if you are at any live show, give the performer flowers -- you never know, you might be responsible for another great tune.

Speaking of inspiration, she tells us in the notes that the track "Leaving Stoer" was written by Ivan Drever after being stuck in a Spanish traffic jam. They must have a better class of jam, although the tune reminds me of very slow movement. "Some People Cry" is another song that deserves much wider audiences and Harriet gives it her inimitable performance.

She closes with an unaccompanied rendition of "My Donald" that benefits immensely from her clear and dulcet tones. This is a voice and playing talent to watch.

This is an excellent and very accomplished album that bodes very well for the quality of work to come in 2004. Although still in her teens, Harriet Bartlett has given us a CD that anyone with decades of experience would be justly proud to have issued.

- Rambles
written by Nicky Rossiter
published 27 March 2004