Album Review: Ursula Burns – The Dangerous Harpist
August 30, 2016 Laura Caldwell 0 Comments
I first saw harp-toting songstress Ursula Burns at a sunny Stendhal Festival just over a year ago. I had followed her harp’s melodic sounds until I stumbled across Ursula strumming away in a wooded wonderland, and then she opened her mouth…out came a thick Northern Irish brogue, and I was hooked.
The Dangerous Harpist is Burns’ 5th self-financed album, produced by NI Michael Mormecha at Millbank Studios (like all great NI albums are) with the help of a PledgeMusic campaign, and it’s safe to say this one is a cracker! Anyone who knows Ursula Burns will know that despite the red hair and the giant stringed instrument, she’s no typical harpist, and this album goes to show just how dangerous she is. Filled with laughs, comic nuances and a hell of a lot of rock, this is unlike anything you’ve heard before.
From the tongue-in-cheek Wifi Lullaby, with its soothingly angelic strumming and increasingly stressed vocals, to the almost balladesque feeling of Crying in the Portaloo (I said almost), you can just imagine Burns making up and singing these songs in her everyday life. However, it is Mormecha’s high production values and impeccable musicality that take these songs from catchy little tunes to serious contenders, and it turns out that Burns and Mormecha are the perfect duo.
Although Burns is an intrinsically funny person, there are quite a few darker moments on this album, like the heartfelt A Spell of Cold Weather and the intense and piano fuelled Comedian, although a closer listen to the lyrics means you’re never far from some humour. Following in this vein of lost love and anguish are Strange Clouds, It’s Not Love and the impactful Heartbreak Was Heartbreak.
In a world that is rife with cookie-cutter indie-pop records, it’s so refreshing to listen to something that is both different and intriguing, and with The Dangerous Harpist that is exactly what you get. And even though each track has its merits, it seems to be the more humorous tunes that really stick in your head and get under your skin. Talented in singing, songwriting and playing the harp, it’s comedy that Ursula Burns truly excels at.
Standout tracks: Wifi Lullaby, Heartbreak Was Heartbreak, Mechanical Toys