Mazes is the second enchanting album from Durham singer songwriter Harri Endersby. It follows on from her excellent 2017 debut album Homes / Lives, which I was also privileged enough to review. I must confess to having some bias when it comes to Harri’s work, having fallen in love with the first album the love affair continues with Mazes.
There are nine original songs, many of which will be familiar if you have seen Harri live in the last 18 months or so. Whereas live she performs playing acoustic guitar with her husband Rich Marsh (acoustic guitar and cajoun), on this album she adds electric guitar, piano and mandolin and Rich adds electric & bass guitar and programming.
The album also has the addition of some of the finest young folk talent there is in the shape of Ciaran Algar (fiddle and bouzouki), Toby Shaer (whistles, fiddle, mandolin and harmonium) and Ian Stephenson (harmonium and piano). It was recorded, mixed and mastered by Ian and produced by Harri and Rich themselves.
The opening song ‘Mountainside’ starts the ball rolling nicely in a gentle upbeat fashion. ‘Breathe’ slows things down a little and brings the first bit of fiddle to the album. In ‘Golden Hour’ you can hear the passion in Harri’s voice for the natural world around her. Many of the songs are inspired by the countryside of the North East and also the Isle of Harris, which is one of her favourite places.
The title track ‘Mazes’ is another easy-going track with its gentle percussion and Harri showing her vocal range. ‘Glow’ ups the tempo which is kept up with ‘Small Birds’. ‘Isla’ is started with a field recording of bird song which she did on the Isle of Harris and it brings in the whistles, harmonium and fiddle to great effect.
Having heard many of the songs live, I particularly remember a fine performance of ‘Flight’ at the 2018 Oxford Folk Weekend, so listening to this track took me straight back to that hall. It’s just yet another beautiful and gentle song from Harri, though of course we didn’t have the harmonium and fiddle that day.
I love the way the final track, ‘Close To Home’, is brought in from the outside to the inside (if you listen to it you’ll get what I mean). It also finishes the album in a great upbeat way. I suspect it may be an encore song, but I guess I’ll find out when I see her in Harwell (and possibly London and Bristol) next month.
And so, before you know it, 33 minutes of listening to a beautifully and lovingly crafted album have passed leaving me craving for more. My Sonos is set to repeat so I dive straight back into it.
Harri is touring Mazes around the UK from 25th October to 11th November. I put her on during her first ever tour in 2017 and am thrilled to have her back in Harwell for this one. Go and see her and Rich if you get the chance and you’ll have a really lovely evening full of enchanting music.
Artist’s website: https://www.harriendersby.com
There are no videos from the new album yet, so here’s one from last year. ‘Breathe’: