Monday, 7 September 2009

Florence Rawlings - Hard To Get (Single)

With her wild hair and mock-goth outfit, leaning away from the old fashioned microphone stand, Florence Rawlings looks more like Alison Mosshart than Katie Melua. But this is another artist who seems to be embarrassed to be associated with such a mainstream commercial sound. Either that or Rawlings wants to create an intriguing persona. As part of Mike Batt’s band, Rawlings provided vocals and backing vocals, and is now signed to Batt’s Dramatico label. The single Hard To Get is taken from the new album A Fool In Love.

Opening with a couple of bars including the basic repeated chorus from the outset, there is an obvious new jazz feel to Hard To Get, blending old-world soul and old-time rhythm and blues (unfortunately this immediately means a guest spot on the next series of Jool Holland’s BBC 2 music show with Holland adding his own honky-tonk piano and filling the backing with a seven piece string section and a swathe of horns). As a piece of song writing Batt is not stretched: “And now you’re playing the crying game, you say that it’s never gonna be the same, but honey you’ve only got yourself to blame, and you know why, coz time flies by…”. What is impressive is the strength and depth of Rawlings’ vocals, always clear and strong.

At just three minutes, the song rolls along repeating itself and not doing anything unpredictable. The ‘b-side’ is a new interpenetration of Dedicated To The One I Love, the 1960s classic single by The Shirelles. It is best known as a cover by The Mamas & The Papas. Rawlings’ version is held together by the strength of her voice, some great piano and an invasive brass section. It is a modern remake but captures the feel and time of the original.

Hard To Get is a good introduction to Florence Rawlings but an unchallenging mid-tempo track is an odd choice to promote an album which needs better exposure. No doubt it will be a success off the back of radio airplay and guest spots. Such is the power of a ‘single’ these days.

-- CS (for Altsounds)

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