It’s said that youth is wasted on the young… But not in Harry Houseago’s case.
He was learning guitar from the age of three, in a recording studio at six, playing open mic nights at 10 and released his first single at 13.
Now, having only just turned 16, he has released the Bicycle That Can Fly EP and is hitting the road in support of it, playing July 31 gigs in Caffe Nero Bournemouth (noon) and Poole (3.30pm) as well as an Olympic set in Weymouth (noon) on August 11.
Shift over Ed Sheeran and Ben Howard, you have competition!
Richly melodic, acutely personal and beautifully produced, the EP fuses the songwriting nous, weathered confidence and emotional insight of a grown-up to the vulnerability and ease of a teenager. Penning his own songs and co-writing with established songwriters, Harry masters buoyant pop and nuanced ballads.
South London boy Harry has been leading up to this for years – his music-mad mum Annie ensured he was immersed in music from the start.
“Even in the womb I was wedged between her and her guitar,” he says.
When Harry got bored of studying classical guitar, he turned to rock and blues, particularly Led Zeppelin. But for all their legendary heaviness, it was Jimmy Page’s acoustic guitar –“And the soul that I heard come out of that” – that changed his direction.
Harry embarked on a series of open mic shows with an acoustic guitar and won a V Festival talent competition when he was just 11 years old.
His stage presence was further sharpened by entering competitions such as Live & Unsigned (third place in 2009, a finalist in 2010) and via a pantheon of heroes including Nick Drake, John Martyn, Ben Howard, Newton Faulkner, Neil Young, Glen Hansard, Seth Lakeman, Tom Waits and Lennon & McCartney).
“I believe that music should first and foremost be entertaining, but it’s also one of the most direct forms of emotional connection – ears are the first external organs that develop in the womb,” Harry reminds us.
Harry’s new EP marks a giant leap forward with three self-penned tracks one cover version – Feeder’s 2001 classic Just A Day getting a radical retool and emerging as a simmering ballad.
“I like hearing a good song performed in a different way,” Harry explains.
“I also covered the classic Put A Little Love In Your Heart, which is available as a free download – I love that song.”
The EP’s lead track Tomorrow Today is hopeful, to suit its upbeat arrangement, with sentiments not just for impressionable teens but for grown-ups also. In stark contrast Bicycle That Can Fly is a more haunting affair.
His lyrics are always personal, often inspired by news reports, “But in some way all my words are autobiographical,” he adds.
Hear Harry at these links:
And watch him here:
(Bicycle That Can Fly video promo clip)