FIFTY3 FRIDAYS: GET HAPPY
Forget your troubles, come on get happy. So goes the song from the 1930’s made famous by Judy Garland in the fifties while David Cassidy fans may recall an entirely different song – “C’mon Get Happy” – as the theme tune to The Partridge Family TV series in the 70s. Ah, the hair and those fashions. Before we lay waste to any further decades, the point is we can always do with a little happiness in our lives, especially in these viral times.
Enter, quite feasibly stage left, The Happy Somethings; a rare, reclusive breed of the musical kind in that the choice is not to plaster their faces over Instagram but rather mask identities behind three dolls that would not look amiss in those 60’s sci-fi TV puppet shows created by the late Gerry and Sylvia Anderson. Sorry, those decades again. The Happy Somethings are appropriately known as Happy, Jolly and Joy, multi-instrumentalists and singers who formed around four years ago and claim to ‘hang around the Derbyshire/Notts border making music for pleasure.’ While you can still enjoy the band’s music on the likes of Spotify, it remains defiantly non-monetised, as evidenced by its entire catalogue being available to download free on Bandcamp.
“The Weather” is from the trio’s latest EP, Thinking Is Free Part 3, the third in a series which will culminate in a 20-track album early next year. The song began as a children’s poem written by Happy, augmented by lyrics that had been floating around and just seemed to fit with the music. There are unintentional but evident references to The Beatles “Rain” and a slightly heavier vibe compared to much of the band’s work. Indeed, Joy fancifully claims that “The Weather” is a reworking of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons!
I may not go quite that far but the song combines the trio’s innate feel for melody with simple yet clever wordplay to create a decidedly feelgood forecast. To quote The Happy Somethings: “our modest ambition is to continue having fun writing, recording and sharing the results on social media. If other people get to hear our music it makes us happy. If they like it - that makes us very happy!” Enough said. There’s always tomorrow and you wouldn’t want to be without The Happy Somethings, would you.
Hannah Scott & Stefano Della Casa
Along with the weather, relationships can still be unpredictable despite the best intentions. Suffolk-raised singer-songwriter, Hannah Scott, has come up with a gem of a song that charts the reality of separation. The seed for “Untangling” was planted when Scott split up with her partner of three years back in 2008 and was struck by how two lives had become one and yet the redivision of belongings firmly made them two again. It was an idea which sat around until a couple of years ago when her mother came out of a 15-year relationship and described it as feeling she was "untangling" her life from his. After this Scott felt she could finally write the song.
Hannah Scott released her first EP back in 2012 and her debut full album in 2018. “Untangling” is the third single put out this year from Hannah’s forthcoming Help Musicians-funded album. Her music is created in partnership with Stefano Della Casa who co-writes, arranges and produces them with a little help from the singer-lyricist. It’s very much an intrinsic musical relationship; the melody and structure of Scott’s songs is skilfully and sympathetically crafted by Della Casa and there is a subtle strength to her vocal range that belies its sweeter tones. “Untangling” conveys personal emotions within an altogether grander landscape which is evident in all her work leading towards the new album. Check out the delicate “98” and uplifting “Shape” here.
Another Hannah in the news in the past week is London Grammar’s Hannah Reid. The London trio has been ploughing its exquisite furrow for the best part of a decade now and has previewed “Californian Soil”, the title track from its third album, the follow-up to 2017’s Truth Is A Beautiful Thing, which will appear on 12 February. Hannah Reid holds sway through her sheer vocal quality and originality while her bandmates’ skill in welding sparse electronica to quietly blissful melodies has always created a wholly distinctive mood. The new track, however, indicates a subtle development in the trio’s sound.
Fans have drawn comparisons with Massive Attack’s 1998 song “Teardrop", lyrically penned and sung by Cocteau Twins vocalist, Elizabeth Fraser, and there are indeed some similarities in feel and chord structure. A trip hop flavour to the song with percussion greater to the fore may indicate a developing direction for London Grammar. According to Hannah Reid, the album is about her “gaining possession” of her own life, having experienced misogyny in the music industry first-hand. The support of her bandmates Dan Rothman and Dot Major helped her find the inner strength to combat this.
I’ll leave you this week with two further choice cuts from this week’s Fresh on the Net’s Listening Post entries. This week’s Fresh Faves are a particularly strong bunch but among the several songs I enjoyed, these two stood out. Firstly, the warm summer comes to Gracelands vibe of “Curtain Call” by Stables, the indie-folk duo of Matthew Lowe and Daniel Trenholme, and Londoner Tina Boonstra’s wonderfully catchy and uplifting anthem, “Talk It Over”, accompanied by this marvellous video.