Take A Chance On Me: Katie Harbour

Katie Harbour - Chase Me Down

We can’t believe that it has been almost twelve months since the last installment of our “Take A Chance On Me” series.  Indeed, we’d originally hoped to make this a quarterly feature here at Great Dark Wonder, especially given how many new and relatively unknown artists land on our radar.  But hey, sometimes during our excursions to Southern ON, we find some contenders, and other times we strike out.  Our most recent adventure gave us a little extra time to browse in stores where you may not expect to find new music, and it would be during a short stop in Hamilton that we yielded a result.

Still sealed in the original packaging, my eyes fell upon the 2017 “Chase Me Down” album from Katie Harbour.  With no distinct Canadian markers on the cover except a small ‘Made in Canada’ acknowledgement, a quick online search confirmed that this was indeed a SOCAN licensed release from a true Hamiltonian artist.  Purchase completed, this CD travelled home with us here to Central PA, and as my soundtrack of choice during my daily commute over the last few days, gave me a wonderful introduction to a rising artist.

Upon the first spin of the album, I detect a strong resemblance to the musical talents of teen-sensation Avery Raquel; a first impression reinforced by the teenage Katie Harbour image that graces the album cover.  Both ladies possess some incredibly powerful voices at their respective young ages, yet while Avery has stamped a claim on her interpretation of both light jazz and soul music, Katie separates herself with a more piano-based pop-soul direction. Indeed, having listened to the eleven tracks on “Chase Me Down,” I quickly drew comparisons to both Sara Bareilles and Amy Winehouse, two non-Canadian artists that you will always find in my album collection.

Leading off with the title track, a simple guitar strum establishes the mood.  “How long will you have to pretend?” Katie boldly asks with her opening line.  “And how long ‘til you say it’s the end?”  And as some electric guitar overtones further accentuate the growing intensity in Katie’s delivery, the listener encounters a slightly dark and beautifully ‘depressing’ portrayal of a woman scorned.  With a clear nod to her influences, the Amy Winehouse sounds dominate here, continuing into the following track, “Hollow Heart,” albeit with a slower tempo and some haunting piano courtesy of Amy King.

Katie clearly does not want to overwhelm the listener with these more somber tunes, and lifts your spirits with tracks such as “Cracks In The Sidewalk” and “If That’s What You Want.” Keep digging and you’ll encounter the more Sara Bareilles pop influences on both “Care” and “Find,” before having your heartstrings tugged hard with “Quicksand.”  Never afraid to mix things up, go ahead and enjoy Katie’s sultry charms during “Games,” a doo-wop and swing-laced pleaser that allows the artist to engage in some brief flirtation with her listener.

If you have a soft-spot for some wonderful smooth jazz, then go ahead and skip straight to the closing track, “Unsaid.”  If you are not moved by those soothing bass tones, incredible percussion and jazz guitar picks, rest assured that you shall be once serenaded by Katie’s vocals,  perfectly delivered in a variety of pitches as the track ebbs and flows.  While there is no shortage of amazing music on this album, I’m happiest here joining Katie in this music lounge, sipping my vermouth and allowing myself to become lost in the moment.

“Chase Me Down” is an impressive debut for this Ontario artist, and a worthy candidate for this series.  Please seek this one out if you too are looking to take a chance on something new; like us, you’ll congratulate yourselves for doing so.  Recommended listening.

Preview “Safe Harbour” on Spotify.

The British guy that crossed the ocean and crash landed in central Pennsylvania (to quote Greg Keelor, “And I wonder what am I doing here?”). As the youngest of four siblings, exposure to music from a very early age nurtured my passion and appreciation for many musical genres. Continuing to discover some amazingly diverse and talented musicians based in Canada, I gravitate to live music experiences and remain devoted to spreading the word about such a vibrant music scene.

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