There are many female rock vocalists that aspire to the rootsy vulnerability of Janis Joplin but not many that meet the challenge. One such exception is Hobo Chang‘s Fiona Harmon. Hailing from North Essex, I first heard Fiona’s fabulous vocals on an album by her other band, The Wicked Ravens; I’m pleased to say that this versatile voice sounds as good on the four tracks of Hobo Chang’s most recent EP, Clockwork Monster. As with Wicked Ravens, Fiona is co-writer with Nick Munt and they are joined in Hobo Chang by musicians Polly Haynes, Tom Eyers and Phil Pains.
Leading the charge of this EP is title track ‘Clockwork Monster‘, a song that shows off Fiona’s clear, soulful vocals from the start. A minimalist approach to instrumentation allows the song to breathe before building into something more. As light and clear as ‘Clockwork Monster’ is, what follows is dark, intense and moody. ‘Nightcrawler’ has a swirling air about it, it would be easy to get lost in it – nevertheless, this track is a reminder that great music holds a few surprises. There are more than a few here, with the influences of blues, psychedelia becoming apparent before giving way to delightful prog rock.
The four tracks of Clockwork Monster hang together very coherently but, if I was pushed to choose a favourite, then it would be the beguiling tones of ‘Borrowed Time‘. A laid back rhythm and musical style chime perfectly with Fiona’s drawling vocals singing “falling, standing on the edge of life…if you could borrow time, pick up the pieces of your broken life”. The longer the song goes on, the more layers you find – if you were to listen ten times in a row you would find something new each time.
Hobo Chang are a band that do everything themselves, from the recording, mastering, mixing, even down to the artwork and merchandise.
Fiona’s advice for those aspiring to make their own music expounds this approach:
“Its easy to get down, thinking you are not getting anywhere…but every time you play an instrument or sing a note or engineer a tune…you are getting somewhere”.
Clockwork Monster was released in November 2019. Get your copy here.
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