REVIEW: Sharon Rae North — Heart of Mine (SINGLE)
In an age where synthetic vocals have replaced the majority of organic melodies you hear when browsing around your radio dial, a singer like Sharon Rae North tends to stand out. She’s got a warm sensibility when she starts to croon that reminds listeners of the best qualities vocal pop has to offer, and with the arrival of her new single “Heart of Mine,” she makes it more than obvious just how ambitious she is about the future. Blending influences from jazz and specifically post-war chamber pop, North demonstrates a knack for cultivating harmonies in this performance that is second to none in her scene right now, if not the whole of the underground she’s trying to come up in.
One of the first things I noticed about this song when I sat down to review it was its lack of instrumental buffers, leaving us with the core harmonies North is starting with the string parts rather than any of the usual filler we find situated between them. She doesn’t need a lot of containment with this arrangement, and her confidence rubs off on the rhythm by the time we hit the halfway mark in the track. This is something to note right now, especially as she isn’t on the mainstream radar just yet, as if she’s able to refine her swagger a bit more in the future it could easily yield some very captivating results both on stage as well as in the recording studio.
Sharon Rae North is very disciplined with her vocal range, and when she’s utilizing it to put an exclamation point on a narrative — such as she does in the chorus of “Heart of Mine” — she shows us that even the presence of a percussive pulse isn’t entirely necessary for her to create a groove in a song. This is a slower tempo number, but she’s allowing the drum element to have a bit of an expressive place on the back end, even if it feels more removed than what a lot of her peers would have gone with in the same composition. It would be rather interesting to hear what someone else could do with this composition as it’s performed by this player, mostly just to confirm the obvious; she puts her signature on this piece, and to swap out the lead singer would be to change its meaning entirely.
Summer usually brings a lot of interesting talent out of the woodwork, and in singer Sharon Rae North I think we’ve got one of the more unique voices people have been buzzing about since the start of 2022. “Heart of Mine” is a terrific exhibition piece, but it also begs the question of how far she could go with her harmonies if she wasn’t as caged by jazz conventionality as she can be in the climax of this single. Time will tell us for certain, but at the moment I would rank her as one of the more provocative vocalists to keep your eye on heading into the year’s end.