5 Songs, 15 Minutes

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Ratings and Reviews

5.0 out of 5
2 Ratings

2 Ratings

Rusted Wolf ,

Hattie Briggs is a Rising Folk Music Star

The essence of outstanding folk music is the ability of the artist to take the tradition of the genre and personalize it so that the resulting mixture is something that is comfortable in its familiarity while also new in its unique treatment of timeless topics. To say that Hattie Briggs succeeds in “My Shepherd’s Hut” understates the achievement of an outstanding lyricist and vocalist. Her writing is direct and honest; her voice is nuanced to reflect each emotion she shares, from a worldly-wise wistfulness that belies her 20 years to a playful optimism that for lovers somewhere, somehow, there will be a better place.
The five songs that make up the ‘My Shepherd’s Hut” EP revolve around the central theme of relationships. “Just You and I” and “Where Your Love Should Be” are universal. Either can as easy be the theme song for a troubled couple in an Amarillo, Texas, bar with sawdust on the floor or a pair of black-leather-clad teenagers grasping for something more on the wet, windswept streets along the North Sea.
“Tilly’s Song” is lyrically simple, but melodically beguiling. It is a mind-escape song that you hear on the drive to work or school and – hours later – it’s still there to take your thoughts outside to a happier place while the boss or prof spews endless hot air. In the repetition of the simplicity and the imagery of summers of memories, Briggs creates that shared image of wistful nostalgia for something lost in the past while affirming that bonds between friends never fully shred with the miles and the years.
“Without a Trace” shakes up the simpler melodic pattern of the other pieces as two lovers challenge fate. They are mysterious and enigmatic figures. Briggs plays with lyrical expectations as she has the female character say, “I’m only young but there’s lines on my face” before telling us that after her escape to a “better place,” “young or old there’s no lines on her face.” Knowing there is only one place that is not in this world where lines are washed away makes us wonder where the lovers went. It is that enigmatic sense and the different rhythms that make the song a sort of impressionist puzzle as well as a youthful declaration of escape.
“Still With Hope I See” is representative of her more introspective pieces with spare piano chords and lyrics that distill the marrow of human experience. The refrain, “when I look at you with wounded eyes / it’s still with hope I see” coupled with Briggs’ strong vocals takes a song nominally about relationships into another realm. It is not, after all, only lovers who experience this – so do families on any one of a thousand days, the dreamer confronting his dream; or anyone confronting the image in the mirror. Briggs is not talking about someone else; this is music at its most universal and also personal. The darker mood is not a hopeless one. For despite the wounds retold and the emotional scars visible in the words, the piece retains a redemptive note. Not false hope, but hope that endures despite logic.
“My Shepherd’s Hut” is an outstanding debut. The powerful language of Hattie Briggs’ songs and her perceptive imagery demonstrates her outstanding potential to becoming a truly great lyricist. Her lively voice imbues those words with added depth, and makes listening to her music not an affair for the ears, but one for the heart. The richness of her work makes Hattie Briggs a noteworthy addition to the folk music world.

Rusted Wolf ,

Hattie Briggs’ Debut Showcases Outstanding Talent

The essence of outstanding folk music is the ability of the artist to take the tradition of the genre and personalize it so that the resulting mixture is something that is comfortable in its familiarity while also new in its unique treatment of timeless topics. To say that Hattie Briggs succeeds in “My Shepherd’s Hut” understates the achievement of an outstanding lyricist and vocalist. Her writing is direct and honest; her voice is nuanced to reflect each emotion she shares, from a worldly-wise wistfulness that belies her 20 years to a playful optimism that for lovers somewhere, somehow, there will be a better place.
Hattie Briggs is deeply steeped in the folk idiom. Her work reflects a wide range of influences from both sides of the Atlantic. However, her music could hardly be called derivative. Just as great cooks make unique masterpieces from basic ingredients and recipes handed down from the past, Briggs does the same. In this EP and her other original work, Briggs achieves a level of style all her own.
The five songs that make up the ‘My Shepherd’s Hut” EP revolve around the central theme of relationships. “Just You and I” and “Where Your Love Should Be” are universal. Either can as easy be the theme song for a troubled couple in an Amarillo, Texas, bar with sawdust on the floor or a pair of black-leather-clad teenagers grasping for something more on the wet, windswept streets along the North Sea. Both manage to be romantic without being cloying. In both, the backing of Henry Fraser adds a layer of sound as well as an oddity in current romantic folk – songs that involve both partners.
“Tilly’s Song” is lyrically simple, but melodically beguiling. It is a mind-escape song that you hear on the drive to work or school and – hours later – it’s still there to take your thoughts outside to a happier place while the boss or prof spews endless hot air. In the repetition of the simplicity and the imagery of summers of memories, Briggs creates that shared image of wistful nostalgia for something lost in the past while affirming that bonds between friends never fully shred with the miles and the years.
“Without a Trace” shakes up the simpler melodic pattern of the other pieces as two lovers challenge fate. They are mysterious and enigmatic figures. Briggs plays with lyrical expectations as she has the female character say, “I’m only young but there’s lines on my face” before telling us that after her escape to a “better place,” “young or old there’s no lines on her face.” Knowing there is only one place that is not in this world where lines are washed away makes us wonder where the lovers went. It is that enigmatic sense and the different rhythms that make the song a sort of impressionist puzzle as well as a youthful declaration of escape.
For most of the EP, Briggs plays guitar. “Still With Hope I See” is representative of her more introspective pieces with spare piano chords and lyrics that distill the marrow of human experience. The refrain, “when I look at you with wounded eyes / it’s still with hope I see” coupled with Briggs’ strong vocals takes a song nominally about relationships into another realm. It is not, after all, only lovers who experience this – so do families on any one of a thousand days, the dreamer confronting his dream; or anyone confronting the image in the mirror. Briggs is not talking about someone else; this is music at its most universal and also personal. The darker mood is not a hopeless one. For despite the wounds retold and the emotional scars visible in the words, the piece retains a redemptive note. Not false hope, but hope that endures despite logic.
Briggs only put five songs on the “My Shepherd’s Hut” EP, but there are several others of hers that are worthy of mention, all of which are the more emotional ballads that dominate her keyboard-driven work. “No More” goes beyond the clichés of break-up songs. It is a declaration of independence from a relationship. Again, Briggs brings us rich imagery. The betrayal partner has as “creases on your face,” which shifts the song away from the traditional two-timing-man song to something deeper. The only surprise is that neither Hollywood nor the BBC nor another TV network has picked this up as the background vocals for a break-up scene.
“Disgrace” brings us an interesting dissonance between the title and a hope-affirming piece that sets Briggs’ wounded friend on a new road after an undescribed disgrace. Maybe the song only works for anyone who ever made a mistake and wants to get through it, but since that seems to be about everyone, it is another instance where Briggs strikes a universal chord. “Disgrace” is the type of song you hear at sundown on a day when everything has gone wrong, is likely to go wrong, and seems like it always will go wrong – but when the words and melody are done sinking in, you dust off your dreams and get back on the road to get on with them.
“Share your Heart” is one of Briggs’ richest lyrical efforts and one of her most introspective pieces. Whether ruminating on the fact that “These poison fears, these acid tears, these ghosts, Have haunted you for years,” or noting that “It's hard to find the reasons in the crazy lists of life,” Briggs explores the pathos of life when one’s own misery can’t get out of the way to reach out to people who might care.
“My Shepherd’s Hut” is an outstanding debut. The powerful language of Hattie Briggs’ songs and her perceptive imagery demonstrates her outstanding potential to becoming a truly great lyricist. Her lively voice imbues those words with added depth, and makes listening to her music not an affair for the ears, but one for the heart. The richness of her work makes Hattie Briggs a noteworthy addition to the folk music world.

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