The follow up to 2019’s Happier Now, Closeness is a rewarding, warm outing for folk rock duo Native Harrow. It has touches of everything you love about their music, but with a fresh sound that feels like the band are experimenting with what they are capable of. With a medley of instrumentation and led by Devin Tuel’s outstanding vocals, Closeness is an eclectic album that represents a new direction for the band.
The band have had the chance to test out their new material during their tour earlier in the year and in online gigs in the time since. Listening to everything together is truly special. The way they have changed up their music is evident early on, the influence of jazz and funk grabbing your attention right from the first track. The slower ballads that Native Harrow do so well are still there, but sit harmoniously with other tracks that feature pace, a different tempo and what feels like a wider variety of instruments. The opener, Shake, is a fantastic example. The energy and volume of the track is striking, yet also doesn’t feel like a misstep compared to the much slower The Dying of Ages that comes straight after. Closeness repeatedly moves the goalposts for what the rock duo can do, and most of the thrill you will get from listening to it comes from appreciating their immense talent.
Tuel is the heart and soul of the tracks. Her voice is utterly transportative, not to mention distinctive, and the control is outstanding. Tuel never even comes close to a waver or bum note. Her singing sits like a dream alongside the instrumentation, which again shows more dexterity than previous albums. The arrangement is fantastic, the guitar in particular always chiming in at the right time regardless of whether it is a finger light touch or a dominating presence in the track. Turn Turn proves to be the album’s hidden gem, a moment of pure bliss as the album calmly sails towards its climax.
This is an exciting, heartfelt album that feels like a hot mug of tea on a viciously cold night. Fewer artists can so effortlessly combine ingenuity with comfort, and Closeness shows that they are far from finished experimenting with their sound. Native Harrow are setting new standards in folk rock with a boldness in their sound and an openness in their hearts.