I had heard about 24 year old Hattie Briggs a long time before I finally got to see her live in Stroud. She was the winner of Fender (Guitars) Undiscovered Artist of the Year in 2017 going on to support Lucy Rose at Bush Hall. Judging by the audience turnout and response to her music, Stroud have taken her to their hearts as a local talent and her 30 minute set supporting Blue Rose Code on a wintry Burns Night showed why.
Although she cites Eva Cassidy as an inspiration, Briggs actually comes across as reminiscent of a young Joni Mitchell, particularly in her opening songs. Her rearrangement of Cassidy’s version of the classic ‘Autumn Leaves’ proves that the skills involved in covering a song take real talent; re-arranging means so much more than just copying. In addition, Briggs demonstrates the art of losing herself in a song whilst simultaneously drawing the listener into it, treating each song with respect and care whether it be a cover or an original. She achieves this through an authentic transmission of emotion, ranging across heartbreak to joy, using subtle and intelligent lyrics in her own songs such as ‘Just Breathe’ and ‘Early Girl’ supported by her accomplished musicianship on the guitar and piano. ‘Early Girl,’ is a commissioned song which brings tears to the eyes and although depicting the narrative of a Father’s thoughts and feelings for his premature baby 50 years ago, makes the event feel just as relevant today. In less capable hands, this intensely personal account could have drowned in sentimentality and despair. Instead, Briggs gets the fragile balance just right. This song, the first of 5 singles to be released over the year, will be out on 23rd February. A series of mini tours are arranged for late April.
Her success is underpinned by very hard work. I asked her for a few words about her musical project for 2018.