Fletcher Bay is available at:
22nd March, 2017
The E.P., The Wild Winds, is available at:
ONE of the reasons I have been so busy lately…
is because I’m putting together a body of work I can use, I hope, in order to seek employment among some reputable music publication. The same work ethic can be applied to Harry Pane. I will talk about touring and those who gig relentlessly; a bit about Northamptonshire’s (where he is from) music and various ways of funding recording; getting that producer/location down and music that brings the listener into the songs – a little bit on hitting a wide appeal and getting reputable stations under your belt. Let’s begin with that first point and the nature of touring. I have written articles recently that talks about mainstream artists and the promotion ‘game’ that is played: another looked at artists who suffer anxiety and whether touring demands are responsible. In terms of those big artists; there is a real need to fit into a certain way of working. When an album or single is on the horizon, there begins a meticulous and structured campaign that sees every media source hit and this bit-by-bit drip-feed or a promotional release. You have the social media revelations and, before you know it, a huge amount of gigs. I wonder whether there is a lot of pressure put on mainstream artists to promote harder than ever. One can apply this to new artists: the competition so fierce, there is that need to perform as much as possible. These long hours and brutal demands are taking a toll on a lot of artists. Anxiety levels are rising and the desperation for revenue – gig money is the only many artists will receive – is pushing our artists to the limit. It is quite a brutal and unforgiving scene, so I wonder whether there needs to be some form of mediation and restructuring. To me, there are the same amount of venues (or fewer) but the number of artists is climbing ever-higher. One wonders whether that compression and compaction is causing a squeeze on the music scene. It all sounds rather negative but I wanted to address one side of touring and what a new musician faces.
In terms of Harry Pane; he is someone whose music plays on the softer side: it has captured many hearts but has a broadness and sonic diversity that has seen it appeal to a wide range of sources. Because of that, Pane is in demand and has been performing around London quite a lot. He is based down here now and revelling in the opportunities and unique, characterful venues we have in the capital. Whilst many artists are pushing themselves hard – and finding anxiety and stress follows – Pane seems to have a good balance. Yes, he is much-demanded but is able to perform regularly whilst affording himself some off-time. I have mentioned how Pane’s music has a gentleness and passion to it. Does my concerns, and the fact some artists are burning out, apply to those who play harder, more energised music? Maybe the sheer energy and strain exerted per gig, carried across a year of dozens, is too much for their bodies and minds. Is it easier for an acoustic/Folk artists, say, to sustain a jam-packed gig calendar and have a real sense of optimism? Maybe so but, in Pane’s case, there is that natural love of the road. That is why I wanted to address touring and gigs. Whilst many feel a bond with the studio and prefer it there – if I were a musician, I think I would – there are many who yearn for the buzz and love one can only get in the live arena. Even if your audience is quite intimate; there is something inexplicable magic and transcendent about holding court and connecting with the people. I think THAT is what many, and Harry Pane, vibe from. You have that closeness with the crowd and are able to see the reactions first-hand. I have read live reviews from Harry Pane’s recent shows there is that consensus: he is someone who can captivate an audience and get a very raw and pure emotion from every patron. It is not a shock, because of that, he is pretty active right now.
I have this by-proxy/second-hand paternalism with Pane and hope, like the best new artists out there, he is taking time to recharge and chill between gigs. I can understand the need to get the music out there and build the fanbase but, at the end of the day, he needs time to decompress and reflect. There are a lot of pressures on new artists so, dealing with them, is quite a hard struggle. One thing that impresses me about Harry Pane’s gigs is how comfortable and assured he appears. A young man he may be but he is someone who has the skills and affinity of an older musician – completely natural and connected with the stage. I will come to look at his new E.P., The Wild Winds, but can only imagine, in light of its release, there will be many new fans who will want to see Harry Pane in the flesh. Whilst there are concerns about the health of our musicians and how much is on their shoulders; it is possible to get regular gigs and not push things too hard. Pane has been performing around London and the U.K. but one suspects he would welcome a broader, more ambitious itinerary. It seems, listening to the depth and richness of his music, it is translatable and utilitarian. One does not have to be accustomed to a genre or style in order to bond with Pane’s music. I could envisage him tackling the American market and finding success in states like New York and Los Angeles. Of course, we often associate America with the big cities and states but forget all the other great areas in the country – Nashville and Seattle among them. I hope Pane, in months to come, is allowed access to explore America, Europe and other areas. I can see him gaining big international acclaim – whether he wants to remain local at the moment, and carve out a niche here, is up to him. There is a lot of excitement around Harry Pane and that, in time, will see him becoming a big proposition abroad.
Harry Pane has sold out London’s The Bedford and established himself as one of London’s brightest new hopes. As music becomes larger and more expansive; counties and areas outside the big cities are becoming less attractive and more anonymous. It is great living in the environs of London or Manchester (or Glasgow) but does that proximity pose any benefits to an ambitious musician? Whilst one has a greater chance of success in the cities, I would argue it is pretty hit-and-miss whether one could gain any exposure in smaller areas. I have featured artists from Reading who have been able to survive here without relying on London but that is a rare exception. So many artists tell me the same thing: there is no active scene where they are and feel the need to have to go to the big cities. I have been looking at Harry Pane’s home county, Northamptonshire, and whether, in practical terms, there is any sort of music base. I know there are some larger towns/cities (away from London) that provides a platform for musicians but, in terms of Northamptonshire, there is a limit. Foundrymans Arms offers live music and chances for bands down in Northampton – it is as popular destination but quite limited in terms of space and music variation. O’Neills, (Northampton) in The Drapery, is more reputable and hand-picks the best bands around – making sure local punters are treated to a discerning collection of acts. Whilst its online reviews might suggest there are better pubs/venues around – one suspects the food service and ambience is more culpable than the quality of music – the Irish bar provides a range of genres and sounds for people to enjoy. Roadmender, down in Lady’s Lane, Northampton, brings together the best Indie D.J.s around and hosts its world-famous (one wonders whether that claim is rather ambitious; their definition of ‘world’ might not extend beyond the county) Propaganda club night and caters to those who prefers their music bass-heavy and banging.
Rose and Crown Bistro, by contrast, is as austere and dignified as its name might suggest. It prides itself on British cuisine but had a worldly flair: this is reflected in the eclectic selection of music they provide. From Jazz and Rock to Blues; there is something for everyone to enjoy. Royal & Derngate – another quintessentially English-sounding boozer – reopened in 2006 after a multi-million-pound redevelopment. The venue is more family-friendly than most venues – translation: not quite as cutting-edge and happening as you’d hope – but, because of that, is a more broad-minded and accessible venue than many in Northampton. Rushden Con Club is one of few venues outside Northampton that hosts the best acoustic and electric artists from around the county – sourcing its talent from surrounding areas, too. One can enjoy a friendly environment, cheap drinks and exceptional music. The British Arms – one imagines Northamptonshire to be quite Brexit, given its patriotic pub names! – offers some world-class banter and a top-notch selection of real ale. Navigate the classic bants and bearded-men-tasting-ale-visions and one can access some great live music down in Wellingborough. The Deco, nestled in Abington Street, Northampton, is a restored 1930s cinema and a beautifully-appointed site. Whilst its beautiful auditorium is more suited for theatrical events; it does showcase musicians and is one of the most striking venues in Northamptonshire. The Castle Theatre and Arts Centre showcases mighty Blues and smooth Soul music; brilliant Folk and Rock ‘n’ Roll spark. It is another great site in Wellingborough that shows what an impressive scene the town has. Whilst Northamptonshire does a music scene, it is rather sporadic and not quite as consistent as somewhere like London. Northampton, especially, is quite a strong centre and, if an artist can get some local gigs and enjoy the convenience of London, that is quite a nice blend. I feel Pane is situated in London because he has a talent and ambition that cannot be satisfied by a few local bars. That unslakable thirst is best left to London and its vast array of venues. That said, one cannot understate the importance of the local scene and preserving those all-important venues. Without them, talent like Pane would not be able to campaign and expose his music – he would be forced to make costly visits to London and might not get the experience he requires. Now he is based in the capital, he is starting to build up a solid and loyal fanbase – and get gigs in other parts areas the country.
Not only has Harry Pane got that desire to perform and wonderful critical acclaim but the backing of record labels and the public. In terms of finding finance for music; many musicians are struggling to put together the necessary fees. I have seen many go down the crowd-funding route: not only to get fans involved in the production and process but because they have no other options. In Pane’s case, he got funding from Island Records – the Great Britain of the record labels; no small fish – after prospering at Meet & Jam and PRS Music’s ‘Road to the 100 Club’ competition last year. It was a great competition with a lucrative prize. Having a big label like Island Records funding an E.P. is an invaluable prize. I know Pane warranted the victory and earned that accolade but, as an artist, had a lot of pressure turned off. He did not need to stress about where the funding would come through and limit his horizons too much. I worry, even if one goes down the crowd-sourcing route, they are producing music how a recently-bankrupted millionaire would plan their trip to the supermarket. The calculator is out and they would be working out the cost of each instrument/studio day/song. Because of that, a lot of music’s potential is being strangled and artists are having to take less-expensive routes around. I understand how technology can compensate – apps. and software that can make recording and compositions more affordable – but they cannot replicate and replace the natural sound and potential of real instruments. How to find sufficient funds for new musicians might see me straying off-topic – no change there, then! – but it ties in with Harry Pane. Consider what The Wild Winds would sound like were he to have to self-fund one go down the crowd-funding route. I know there would be willing backers but there is that inherent stress: can he hit targets in time and will he generate enough?! As it is, he was not asking for a massive budget but has that comfort-blanket of Island Records. The likes of U2, Amy Winehouse and Elton John are/have been on that label so, not only will Pane get the finance from them but a wealth of experience and knowledge.
The nature of funding and production is something that is on my mind a lot and keeps many artists awake. One wonders whether having a sense of financial uncertainty is good for an artist – they work harder and provide more gigs; find economic ways to get their music produced – but I feel there are far more detrimental and negative aspects. I am pleased for Pane as he earned that honour and has been allowed a certain freedom and elasticity. Listen to his E.P. and it is not crammed with needless instruments and effects. What one hears is something natural and pure: an artist stretching his imagination but displaying a keen ear (and eye) for concision and focus. Not to hark on about Island Records but that is quite a coup for someone so young. It would be nice to see that association continue in the future. Having Pane on their books would be a bonus for them and he, I think, would fit perfectly into their stable. Right now, I am looking ahead and where Harry Pane will go now. Another E.P./album seems certain but one thinks, when that arrives, how it will be funded. I would like to see him go down the crowd-funding route. Some artists can be sniffy when you bring up that area. To me, as long as you give the supporters proper recompense and reward, it is a mutually-beneficial cohabitating that means a musician need not sweat fiduciary nightmares – the fan gets something and knows they have helped make an album/E.P. If a musician has enough money, and goes down this path to save themselves spending a bit of cash, there are some ethical qualms. For Pane, he is not Scrooge McDuck – diving into a huge vault of coins at the end of each day. It would allow Pane’s fans to back a wonderful project and the artist an opportunity to conserve some finance for other considerations – maybe pouring it into a great music video or funding vinyl releases of the album/E.P.
Looking at the credits for The Wild Winds and one cannot help but be impressed by its producer and location: Dani Castelar and Valencia. The fact Pane got to go to Spain and record in such a Paradise. Down in the port-city; he got to enjoy the southeastern coast – where the Turia River entangles the Mediterranean Sea – and surrounded by futuristic structures, planetarium and interactive musicians; the wonderful vistas and gorgeous views. I am all for keeping things basic and making recording simple and affordable but, in this case, one can see the case for going to Valencia. Not only, whilst there, could Pane get inspiration for songs but have a perfect place to relax. One thinks of the modern artists sweating in a high-tech studio and it being a rather robotic and unremarkable procedure. That is true in a lot of cases but, if one can achieve it, going somewhere inspiring like Valencia not only creates a better working environment but an all-in-one holiday/retreat where an artist can get ideas for music and chill at the same time. Kudos to Pane who, one suspects, was not there for a jolly – it was a considered choice and has, as a result, led to some atmospheric, scenic and beautiful music. One hears the E.P. and looks at Valencia: its coast and age-old geography; that clash of modern and historic and the diverse population there. Even if you are British, and do not have a lot of cash, France is on our doorstep – as is Scotland (if you are English). Do your research and investigate those studios that provide a sense of the inspirational but affordable at the same time. One imagines a jaunt to Paris, say, would not be that expensive. The studio costs are not as steep as they are here and, whilst in the city, you get access to romantic and heart-melting images. It is a romantic, perfect city that can make the heart beat faster and compel every musician – not only those who make tender, touching sounds.
The Wild Winds has the distinction of Dani Castelar in the producing chair. He (one would imagine a woman with that forename spelling) has produced work for the likes of R.E.M. and Paolo Nutini. That is an impressive couple of names that makes me wonder where Nutini has got to – I am desperate for an album that follows Caustic Love. He is one of those artists that can release an immense and mind-boggling record like that then bugger off for a while. I digress, sorry, but, with those names under his belt, Castelar knows what he is doing. If one reads Castelar’s bio,. you get an idea of why he is such a sought-after producer:
“Co-Producer of Paolo Nutini’s No 1 album Caustic Love, Dani is an engineer/co-producer of several years experience. Originally Chief Engineer of Grouse Lodge Studios in Ireland (Co.Westmeath)where he worked with a wide variety of artists with a range of musical styles. Highlights of those years would be sessions with The Waterboys, Jacknife Lee(Snow Patrol, REM and Bloc Party) Michael Jackson and the producers who worked with him including Will.I.Am, Rodney Jerkins and Babyface and then working as engineer with Paolo Nutini, recording the album Sunny Side Up.
Leaving Grouse Lodge, Dani worked as an engineer in various London studios and frequently worked with Jim Duguid, co-writer of Paolo Nutini’s first album These Streets. During this period he was offered a residency in Sonic Vista Studios in Ibiza, working with Swedish House Mafia and everyone else in the club business and the artists who wanted to record while they were playing in the clubs”.
That information is taken from his official website and you can have a look at that at your own leisure. Castelar has worked with eclectic artists and a mixture of bands and solo artists. Working with samples, computers and creative tools: one gets a musical equivalent of Valencia in the studio. There is the traditional and older methods of recording but those ultra-modern comforts.
Harry Pane, not only gets that perfect backdrop but a studio/producer who has worked with some of music’s best artists. So many of today’s artists do not credit their producer or overlook it – they are an integral part of the machine. Without their guidance, input and discipline; you would not get the same sound and quality. The producer is not only there to get the sounds recorded and make sure it all runs smoothly. They provide notes and ideas; urge the artist to try new things and expand their horizon. Pane is a new artist but not a stranger to music. Going to Valencia, he would have had his own ideas for the E.P. and what he wanted to achieve. I imagine there would have been conversations in the studio between the two. Castelar, having worked on an album like Caustic Love, would be urging a rawness and nakedness from Pane. He would have been putting forward ideas of calm and introspection. What one gets is a meeting of different minds finding a common compromise. You get to hear strength and power but plenty of tenderness and gentility. Overlooking the unique beauty of Valencia; all these combinations would have augmented the music to rare heights. I hope Pane and Castelar work together again as they seem like a great partnership. The producer does not have too big a say but is not exactly in the background. I can see the duo conspiring again down the line – The Wild Winds is a wonderful creation that benefits from two minds and one man’s personal backstory.
I try not to sample from the buffet of fellow reviews – because that clouds your own ideas – but there is a common thread. Most journalists note how Pane’s music is physical and emotive. One is drawn into the songs and walking alongside the hero. I refrain from using the word ‘journey’ – I will only start pistol-whipping musicians that use this word; it is a trope that does my nut in – but there is something curious and progressive. The songs are episodic in a way they seem to point at different times of Pane’s life. Not that The Wild Winds is conceptual and a single narrative. What I mean is the songs sample from various scenarios and years of the hero’s life. There is, in a strange way, the seven stages of grief. The title of the E.P. would suggest something turbulent and capricious. I feel there is disbelief and denial – emotional events the hero feels are unwarranted and too hard to handle – whilst one senses bargaining and guilt contrasting. Pane has anger and depression at heart – but that hope and defiance above it – and, finally, there is that bargaining/acceptance. What that ‘spark’ was exactly – the trigger for this emotional complexity – one is unsure. As much as I detest certain words being thrown around needlessly; one cannot quibble (The Wild Winds) is a man looking in himself and looking for answers. The listener can either remain passive and the architect of the bystander effect – seeing someone in peril but choosing to ignore it – or involve themselves in the experience. The E.P. is a five-song presentation that demands interaction and interaction. Once there, one finds something emotive but not too heavy. It is not a tough listen in the sense it is overly-vulnerable but there are some splintered stables one must navigate. More than that, there are certain points where you are staring directly into the creator’s eyes. It is a solid and fragile stare that says so much and asks for support. Like connecting with a troubled stranger: there is that temptation to walk away but you become engrossed; struck by a sense of civic duty to assist. That is not to say Harry Pane is an emotional wreck flailing in a sea of depression – he is a tough individual but wears his heart on sleeve. I will go into more detail about the E.P.’s origins and stories but wanted to focus on Fletcher Bay. It is the latest single and a perfect introduction to a rare talent.
I shall ease towards the conclusion but, before I do, wanted to remark on radio patronage and how important a diverse support group is. Again, I am making Pane sound like a destitute waster – my lexicon and vocabulary could use an M.O.T. – but I mean he has a vast and varied backing that sees his music put into a range of different hands. Fletcher Bay has been added to various playlists – including Spotify – and championed by the BBC. Pane has been lauded by BBC Introducing in London, Northampton and Oxford. Not only does he have that home support (new and old) but reached into Oxfordshire. Those counties are important but go beyond that. Kerrang!, of all people, have connected with his music – showing there is something in the music that speaks to those who prefer something quite direct and hard. Tracks like Old Friend have a Rock edge; small wonder it should appeal to Kerrang! The five-track E.P. does not rest in one genres and casts its net pretty wide. Because of that, Pane has managed to appeal to a number of different radio stations and sources. A smart and wide-ranging artist who, one suspects, grew up with a diversity of genres and artists – all reflected and distilled into The Wild Winds. Given the hefty emotional weight one hears; it would be foolhardy to represent that with acoustic strings alone. That would lead to a rather flimsy and threadbare album. One needs to hear the authoritative fist of the electric guitar do its work. That is not to say Harry Pane fires off seven-minute solos and two-handed arpeggios. He keeps it restrained and dignified but is not afraid to indulge the lash of the electric guitar when needed. I have heard a lot of Folk/finger-picking artists who produces E.P.s that do not stray far in terms of sounds and instrumentation. Pane is someone who can keep Folk authenticity intact but step into Rock and Alternative realms. Not only has his music managed to cross counties and radio stations: one knows, when it gets more exposure, it will; cross oceans and see gig demands coming in from abroad.
The opening strings of Fletcher Bay have that classic, far-away dreaminess of the greatest Folk records possesses. A streaming and delightful arpeggio; one is floating down the river warmed by the midday sun. It is a gentle coda that prepares you for the song and gets the imagination working. I was thinking about the song’s title: going to Fletcher Bay and what it might look like. The guitar is soft and romantic but, underneath, has a strength and passion that gets you standing to attention and ready. When Pane approaches the microphone, he talks about a time when he “felt alive”; memories and the mind colliding, one presumes, at this favourite haunt. In the early stages, one gets hints of Bon Iver’s earliest work and the sort of intimate, gorgeous songs one could hear on For Emma, Forever Ago. Pane’s voice has a definite lust and urgency but, accompanying the guitar, a sense of wistfulness and contemplation. One imagines the song, in the first stages, is about that rare and treasured “discovery” the hero will remember into his winter days. It is a vivid and evocative start that gets you cast in the song; watching Pane wander down to the bay and looking around. Maybe it is that sense of quiet and calm that attracts him: there seems to be something mystical and safe in that place. Why he has chosen to come back here is left a mystery. Maybe there is a need to cast away the stresses of life and go somewhere that has always proven to be secure and restful. Perhaps Pane has gone through a tough run of days and, simply, requires some down-time. Listening to the meaning and depth in the voice; I get the impression there are bigger things unfolding and a determination to make sense of things. He has, I feel, had some bad news – or gone through a breakup – and is reverting back to a childhood state. Maybe there is a sense of transference. He is seeking a bosom and warming womb that acts as an artificial love and, maybe, degree of material warmth.
In that moment – when the songs really starts to delve deep – one is still inside the song but standing back and allowing the hero to roam freely. He has a great love and knowledge of Fletcher Bay so is gravitating towards there once more. Soon enough, we hear about a second party. There is that need to be taken there by another person – whether that is a lover or friend, I am not too sure. Maybe it is an indirect plea for someone to accompany him there and experience the landscape with him. Hearing that makes me wonder whether there is a general wanderlust and determination – reconnecting with a place he has not been for a bit; merely visiting a great place – or there is a more serious reason behind it. I guess there needs to be little reason to come to Fletcher Bay but the song seems to have a secret it is holding back. Maybe Pane has a lot going on and needs to make sense of it all: his voice holds ghosts and truths but overshadows that with an intoxicating strength and determination. We hear a wordless coo and layered vocals: the hero more entranced and compelled at this moment; right in the middle of Fletcher Bay as he watches nature unfold. Pane looks at the birds and the stillness of the water. Whoever his travelling companion is, one gets the sense of a man trying to connect with the past but showing a stunning place to another human – it is as simple as that. There are few who will be unmoved by the purity and affection one discovers throughout the song. The hero paints so many scenes and strong images throughout the song – one feels like they are there alongside him. There are few, also, who will not connect with the talents and abilities of Harry Pane. His finger-picking sounds simple but is so intricate and full. One swims inside the notes and hears different things each time you discover them. That is the mark of a great musician: someone who can create something easy and relatable but fool you with complexity and intelligence – you are struck by the notes and the colour and possibilities that linger within.
As the song progresses, we learn it has been nine years since Pane visited Fletcher Bay. He cannot believe it has been so long – one is curious as to the reason behind it – but there is that definite ambition to make this visit special. More curiously, it seems Pane’s heroine/friend is going to remain there – he is going to leave. I was wondering why he was going to go back home and his compatriot was remaining there. Perhaps this visit is a pilgrimage and commemorative occasion. It seems like Pane is putting something to bed and going there for one last, special visit. Maybe Pane is passing the legacy and magic of the place down to someone else – a new generation, perhaps – or sad to say goodbye to somewhere that is very special and treasured. Nobody can deny there are some mixed feelings and hard emotions at work but there is a lot of love and relief. The song changes course and meaning as it goes along. At the start, one assumes it is a simple trip to Fletcher Bay and a chance to reflect and relax. As it gets longer, you change your mind and see the song in a new light. It becomes much more emotional and personal: that travelogue/religious experience unfolds; handing down the secrets of Fletcher Bay to his accomplice. There is an inscrutability and enigma to the song that never really unfurls and speaks its mind. That is good because one gets a real, fully-rounded song that you can interpret however you feel. There is no obviousness and easy tangibility: there is not an infuriating detachment and obliqueness either. However you view it; it is a song that is dear to Harry Pane and, to me, the standout cut from The Wild Winds. There are few songwriters who can inspire the mind and provoke so many reactions and possibilities – almost conspiracies, in a way. It is a song you will return to – like Fletcher Bay itself – and try to get to the bottom of the song’s meanings.
I will wrap this up by looking at the themes I introduced earlier – touring and its demands; music from counties like Northampton; funding from fans/record labels and that right producer/location – and bring in a new theme, the nature of ‘Englishness’ and being unafraid to look into their soul. Before all of that, I want to look at gigs upcoming for the London-based musician. Like his near-name-sake Harry Kane; Pane is a busy man and someone who is enrapturing the home crowds – it is a lazy parable but one I had to do! Consider the next month and Pane has some really interesting gigs. He plays Osterley’s Hare & Hounds tonight and, after leaving the affluent postcode in Isleworth, will look forward to the Vintage Nostalgia Fair (seems like needless tautology, there) in Wiltshire next week. That will be quite an experience: playing at a location, one suspects, will see its share of bygone relics and gloriously evocative nods to the past. In the way Valencia’s modernity and climate compelled E.P. imagination: a fair like that is sure to have Pane looking back and, perhaps, playing a more acoustic set. The Old Blue Last arrives on 8th June and is a great part of Shoreditch. It is in the inconspicuous Great Eastern St. and is a refurbished East End-style boozer that appeals to a trendy young crowd – indicative of the demographic and dichotomy one witnesses in an ultra-cool hipster nirvana. Putney’s Half Moon comes a few days later and there will be a visit to another super-cool hang: Mahiki Bar, Mayfair (on 28th June). To be fair, some of the reviews for the place are not staggering but you cannot fault the décor. It is a proper recreation of the East. There are hints to Hawaii and is the ultimate party destination for those who want exotic, beautiful flowers; some fresh fruit cocktails and toilets where you’re unlikely to find toilet paper stuck to the sinks and a disused condom machine sporting suspicious dents – it is a lot more palatial, graceful and clean. That will be a good gig and a really interesting space to perform. I am not sure whether, like Shoreditch’s crowd, it is young and hip and what you will get in Mayfair. Given the reputation and wealth of the area; it is likely to be predominantly young, cool/well-oiled crowd. Pane is not only reserving his talents for the fashionable elite of London but playing niche areas and broader, for-all-the-people areas. I am not sure whether there is more recording foot but assumes touring will form a big part of Pane’s summer/autumn.
Before I come to those introduction points (again); listening to The Wild Winds offers emotional honesty but projects, in the softer numbers, a sense of Englishness and heritage. It might sound off from an E.P. which, for the most part, wrestles demons and issues of acceptance. I often review Folk artists whose palette contains a lot of greens and yellows. It is quite a soft and autumnal sound that provides glimmers of sunshine. With Pane, one gets a multitude of shades but, more than that, a link to the ancestral albums that would have inspired the young songwriter. I listen to songs like Fletcher Bay, The Wild Winds and Real Souls and get a sense of something older, compelling and evocative. Against the more spirited numbers, I listen to these songs and plant myself somewhere riparian, dreamy and peaceful. In terms of ‘Britishness’ one imagines stately homes, National Trust parks and beautiful gardens. Perhaps there will be a stunning riverside retreat or a London park teeming with wildlife, nature and diverse faces. That is what is conjured up in many of The Wild Winds’ songs. One can hear comparisons to some of Folk’s innovators but a sense of a young man looking for something safe, comforting and relaxing. Against the harsh un-predictableness of life and that need for confession – the hero wants to find sanctuary and a sun-kissed intimacy. The deeper, more intense songs/lyrics take you somewhere else and portray a man who has made mistakes – others have made them too – and is trying to make a better life. Perhaps there have been bad days and bleak moments but there’s a need for acceptance, evaluation and redemption. In an age where many concentrate on love (solely) and keep their deepest emotions subdued and invisible – Harry Pane uses his transgressions and pains, not to sermonise and seek sympathy, but let the listener into an honest and transparent heart that tells no lies and warrants empathy and understanding. Of course, the E.P. is more complex than that – but am not here to review the entire thing – but Fletcher Bay is a perfect insight into Pane’s incredible songwriting talent and unique story.
I opened by opinioning many new artists are relentlessly touring because that is the way to make money and get their music heard. It is true you need to be visible in order to gain success and attention but it seems (the new musician) goes to extreme lengths merely to turn a profit – small and modest as it is. Because of this, tied to social media usage and the amount of time spent online, they are becoming exhausted and anxious. This is not the case with everyone – and there are many artists that love touring as much as possible – but few checks to safeguard those who are becoming overwhelmed by the demands. Maybe it is me being overprotective but in the case of Harry Pane, he seems to gain strength and determination from the array of venues he performs at. As I have detailed, he has a broad and fascinated next few weeks and, after that, will have various options. If there is the possibility of performing further up north, I would see cities like Manchester and Glasgow as perfect areas – maybe the latter is a little far away. Yorkshire, again, is a valuable market he could enjoy plenty of memorable nights in. One hopes, as he becomes more successful, he will take some time to breath and enjoy what is around him. Every passionate musician needs to commit and work hard but also need to realise they are human – get out of that ‘work head’ and enjoy some days off to escape to the country or explore the depths of the city. Pane is in London but started out in Northampton. He still gets back but is finding so many different options in the capital. I have mentioned a few great Northamptonshire venues: the county has a music scene but not as active as, say, Berkshire or Hampshire, perhaps. I opened by stating Northampton is close to London – a sixty-one-mile drive – but, if you look at a map, it is situated at the top of the triangle alongside Oxford and Cambridge. The intimidator between the two rival university cities: a Northampton artist almost equidistance between the two – forty-one miles to Cambridge; maybe a dozen more to Oxford. There is a good local scene in all three counties and, seeing as it is a short distance to London, perfect for anyone who wants to emigrate but be close enough to home. Northamptonshire is where Pane started and cut his teeth – without it, one argues how far along he would be now.
I’ll bring this to a close to and mention Island Records, who helped finance The Wild Winds, and the unique creation of the E.P. That legendary label, following Pane’s competition victory, offered the money so he could record the five songs. I hope, as I posed, Pane does affiliate with Island Records as, not only do they have that stellar roster of artists, they are they based in London but are a huge contemporary force. Not only representing hot new acts like Oh Wonder but showcasing quite a few acts at this year’s Great Escape. Sigrid, Joe Fox and Sigima were there; Dagny, Picture This and Tired Lion performed memorable sets. It cannot be long until Harry Pane performs at the Brighton festival and, with some guidance by Island Records, have a supportive network of label-mates and industry heavyweights. Whilst some artists find label-funded/crowd-sourced records ethically and morally suspect; I, like the majority, feel it is a great incentive and much-needed in an era where money is tight and competition high. It is not an easy route for artists: one gets the chance to have a direct hand in an artist’s work and, in many cases, gain rewards for their faith and contribution. I wondered whether, on future records, Pane would go through PledgeMusic or a similar site. It would allow him to involve the fans and not have to sweat over finances. If he were to, for example, allow backers to be in a video or get into a gig for free, that would be a huge incentive for donations. It is a cooperative that has mutual benefits and guarantees – if successful, anyway – a record gets made.
I shall leave this piece returning to Valencia and a recording location few could match. The Spanish coastal city has modernity and contemporary vibrancy but pairs that with centuries-old views and a sense of tradition. It is a popular because of its cathedral, central squares and busy market – a compartmentalised market that offers a range of foods and delicacies; an opportunity to run shoulders with tourists and Valencianos alike. The perfect and popular beach of La Malvarrosa is great to luxuriate in whilst, by contrast, The Fallas festival – where each area of the city, and some outlying towns, spend a whole year constructing large and exuberant statues; then exhibit these statues on the streets for a whole week, throwing fireworks at each other – twenty-four-hours hours a days – with street parties and plenty of dressing up and parading – which is a unique experience that needs to be top of anyone’s plans. Away from the old Turia riverbed and the soul-lifting views is the modern side of Valencia. The futuristic buildings in the City of Arts and Sciences boasts, among many other things, the L’Hemisferic. It is, in a nutshell, a building shaped like a human eye – or a slightly deflated equivalent of the Sydney Opera House and harbour. Not only do all of these varied and spectacular sights/experiences exist in a single city but a whole other world – one where Harry Pane found a natural confidante and brother in Dani Castelar. The legendary producer has helped guide huge artists like R.E.M. and Paolo Nutini and, in Harry Pane, has found a promising artist who has the same potential as those artists. One gets saw of the Alternative Athens (Georgia, U.S.) sound of R.E.M. – their cerebral, provocative rhythms and melodies – with the incredible honesty and rawness of Palo Nutini. Having produced Caustic Love – songs like Iron Sky are as bracing and jaw-dropping as they come; Scream (Funk My Life Up)’s sauciness and provocativeness – some of that heritage and experience goes into The Wild Winds. Pane has a sexier, rockier side that, like Nutini, is willing to open the heart and soul and let the listener in. That perfect city and natural producer-songwriter bond has gone into an E.P. that has few equals this year. If artists are looking for inspiration and a new working methodology, they might consider a sojourn abroad – European cities are especially compelling and convenient. Fletcher Bay – which sounds like a super-cool U.S. detective – has been celebrated and highlighted by many, and rightfully so. It is a moment of brilliance in an E.P. that contains four others. If Harry Pane continues with the same level of quality and originality it will be…
QUITE a proposition!
Follow Harry Pane