It’s rarer than hen’s teeth but sometimes a voice can warrant legitimate “stop you in your tracks” status. Garrett Laurie’s is one such example. Having grown up singing in church folk groups, the Belfast-based artist’s folk-pop craft – and exquisite vocal delivery – is proving every bit as gossamer as it is quietly beatific.
While last year’s Can I Play Too Or Is It Just For Boys? EP proved a sublime introduction, recent single ‘All About Me’ underscored the promise of an artist wielding soul-stirring finesse. Co-penned with Ciaran Lavery and Stephen O’Hagan at Soft Gut Song Camp, it conjures Weyes Blood, Perfume Genius and some of the all-time greats – not least noted favourites Joni Mitchell and Stevie Nicks – across four short minutes.
It’s a trajectory that has been building to a busy few months ahead. As well as releasing a new EP in the near future, Laurie notes that his stirring, just-released single ‘Novak’ – which was produced by Chris Ryan of Robocobra Quartet and inspired by 1950s film, pop and singer-songwriter records – “feels like a bit of a new beginning in music for me.”
“The title is a nod to Kim Novak in Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo where her character allows her appearance to be altered at the request of James Stewart’s character,” he adds. “In drag culture, there is a huge fascination with Old Hollywood female stars and I liked the idea of using Kim Novak’s changing physical appearance in the film to put a visual with the theme of confused queer identity in the track. As a queer person in the music scene, I have had to work really hard to carve out an identity I can stand behind.”
As Laurie deftly puts it, the burrowing refrain of ‘Novak’ (“It’s you and me baby, driving ‘round these dirt roads lately”) doubles as a “mantra for having yourself and your own identity to fall back on when things aren’t going too well.” With his new EP, we have the sneaking suspicion that quite the opposite is on the cusp of happening. If it does, we look forward to being stopped in our tracks all over again. Brian Coney
Photo by Jane Donnelly