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Prodigious multi-instrumentalist and producer Darren Hart, better known as Harts, has made a name for himself creating an inimitable brand of alt-psych-electro-rock. His first album Daydreamer announced Harts as an incredible talent and an unstoppable guitar-driven force; and what’s even more impressive is that he continues to record and produce all his music from his bedroom studio.
Harts’ sound has often been compared to Jimi Hendrix, with his voice not dissimilar to Lenny Kravitz – and this new record reaffirms both of these presumptions. His latest LP Smoke Fire Hope Desire kicks off with an echoey, Hendrix-like, pedal-heavy guitar intro into the first tune Smoke. The rest of the tune is driven by an up-beat, heavily funk-infused bass-line; and Harts’ mastery of many instruments all in this one track is indicative of the rest of the album.
Harts has gained praise from musicians worldwide, most notable Prince who flew him out to his Paisley Park studios and after working with Harts said; “he reminds me of how I was at that age.” There are numerous aspects of this record that ring true with that statement, not least of which the raw power with which Harts cranks out tracks like Fear In Me and the aptly named Power –but also the ingenuity with which Harts compiled the list and order of tracks on this record.
A 14-track LP, Smoke Fire Hope Desire explores Harts’ many talents in numerous ways, but the use of an intro and three interludes to break up the full length tracks is indicative of his ingenuity and lack of fear to break from the norm. Following Smoke (Intro), we have a quick-fire interlude called Fire which is driven by a fast guitar ostinato and also features keys and horns. The 10th track is another interlude called Wisdom – a reflective 38-second track where Harts shares some of his perspectives on the meaning of life. Finally, the penultimate tune is an interlude called Desire, mostly driven by a soft instrumental; based around a replicative throwback to the earlier tune Peculiar.
There are so many highlights on this record that it is fairly difficult to really explore it in-depth in a short space of time. Apart from his previously released singles Peculiar and Power, some of the tracks that really show off the diversity of Harts’ songwriting prowess include the fast and hard rock track All Rise, his driving psych-rock effort titled Deeper In The Hole, and the super laid-back tune Unfamiliar in which Harts shows off his breathtaking vocal range.
Harts has truly achieved something remarkable with this album, and that’s the fact that there isn’t a single song on it that could really be considered a filler track, and that includes his interludes. He’s created a body of work where every song has just as much emotion, power and energy as the last – and despite this, there’s still a very distinct feeling of balance to the record. It’s almost scary to think that Harts is still in his early ’20s, and to consider that his potential is realistically, from this point, practically limitless.