By Denver-Rose Harmon, Staff Writer
Although she is accompanied by a few other musicians to add depth to the acoustic tracks, Harris and her guitar are the meat of the record. This take on her songs gives you insight into what they may have sounded like when they first danced out of the singer-songwriter’s mind.
One could try to determine which versions are better, the acoustic or the original tracks, but it would be a challenge. I tried, and only came to one conclusion: Jaimee Harris is an incredible songwriter.
It’s impossible to miss the artistry that is required to make a song like “Damn Right”, which sounds just as passionate and rich when it’s just Harris and a guitar as it did with an electric riff and pulsating drums on the original.
The arresting smokiness of her vocals and the poetry of the lyrics speak for themselves. “One more night / one last time,” she cries on the bridge, and suddenly I’m searching for a needle and thread to fix my broken heart.
Instead she broke my heart into more beautiful pieces with “Depressive State”. This song drew me in with a deceptively light melody only to grip me with the introspection of someone in the throes of post-breakup depression.
The finesse with which Harris handles this dark subject is captured in the lyrics during the bridge, where she reflects on the fact that the state she’s in is likely a symptom of more than a failed relationship:
Chicken or egg
I could’ve sworn I was happy before you left
I guess I could have been a bummer the whole time
Fortunately, with the very next song, Harris delivers a salve to fix the wounds inflicted by her powerful voice and mesmerizing lyrics. “Catch It Now” is the only song on the EP that I questioned needing a stripped-down version.
The original song is already a beautifully acoustic ballad , while the new recording is a more laid-back, slower performance of the song. But I can’t imagine the record without it.
It follows up “Depressive State” so perfectly that they feel like two parts of the same story. In the beginning of the first verse, she’s still in that state, but by the time the chorus comes around, the rain has cleared and there is hope. By the end of the second verse, there is an inspiring resolve: “I may not live a righteous way / But I’ll try to never hide my soul away from anyone ever again“
There is a resilience to Harris’s songwriting. A strength in the sad tracks and a sobering quality to the ones that focus on moving forward. This album is a reflection on a life lived fully. On the mistakes made, loves shared, and lessons learned.
The Congress Sessions is available now wherever you get your music.