The Harters – “If I Run”

Karlie Justus Marlowe | March 4th, 2011

The Harters

Songwriters: Leslie Harter, Michael Harter and Rachel Williams

Brothers and sisters, unite!

That seems to be the current rallying cry in Nashville, as a flurry of sibling-only trios make a go at the popular boy/girl/boy harmonies of country music’s reigning super-group Lady Antebellum.

The Band Perry kicked off the trend, and even chose a song from fellow family trio The Henningsens as its third single. Add The Harters, made up of Leslie Harter and her brothers Michael and Scott, and its new single “If I Run” into the mix as a surprisingly sophisticated addition to that group. The tune serves as a breakout follow-up to the trio’s forgettable debut single “Jenny,” released in early 2010, and continues that debut’s theme of restlessness and running.

There’s something about the polish and heft of “If I Run” that belies its newcomer status–so much so that it’s tempting to turn to Google in search of its original performer. The song, written by Leslie and Michael with Rachel Williams, benefits from the tinge of Trisha Yearwood found in Leslie’s delivery and subtle production choices that complement each member’s performance.

Under the supervision of country superproducer Keith Stegall, its spare opening makes way for a powerfully harmonized chorus. Leslie’s even, deliberate pacing wrings every last drop of meaning from quirky lines such as “I’ve dreamed of a place/Of white satin and lace/Black on a tie/And cake on my face,” and the comforting waltz tempo contrasts sharply with the lyrics’ probing questions. The brothers carry their own, providing grounding background vocals that give weight to their sister’s lofty notes.

The outing isn’t without its faults, of course: Leslie’s control can busts loose into the melodramatic, and the bridge’s da-da-di-da-da’s and sharply drawn high notes are quickly grating. Thankfully, those moments don’t last long, and the song drops gracefully back into its comfort zone.

As intriguing as “If I Run” is, The Harters will have to work hard to get a foothold on the trail The Band Perry is blazing. If this latest single is any indication, however, the trio is off to a running start–giving credibility to the universal motherly claim that someday you actually will enjoy the company of your siblings.

Thumbs Up

  1. Ben Foster
    March 4, 2011 at 8:54 am

    I really like this one. Great vocals. An amazing performance. I really love their harmonies. But would you believe the Harters walked right past me at CRS yesterday, and I didn’t even recognize them?

  2. Noeller
    March 4, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    yeah I’m kinda diggin’ this one right now. Word is they’re opening up with Alan Jackson (along with George Canyon) when he rolls through Canada at the end of the month. Hoping to check them out and see what the live show is like!

  3. The Confessor
    March 4, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    Interesting.

    I was impressed by how prominent the male harmony vocal was in the vocal mix, so much so that it initially made me wonder if it was done to mask insufficiency in the lead vocal… but on listening to the song multiple times I don’t think that’s the case; I think it’s a legitimate artistic choice.

    And I might just have a high tolerance for “Na Na Na”, but their presence in the bridge didn’t phase me all that much. Nor did the course of the vocal melody during those sections, which was actually lower than some other portions of the song. The male harmonies do go high there, but I found that endearing, in the manner of Kimberly Perry’s vocal runs on The Band Perry’s “If I Die Young”, rather than at all annoying.

    Having never heard anything by this band before, I went ahead and watched the video for “Jenny” as well… and I have to say that it’s among the worst-conceived country videos I’ve ever seen. There are a total of two scenes in it, and both of them show the band *seated* in near-identical configurations. And what was up with the bloody telephone at the end of the video?

  4. Rick
    March 4, 2011 at 9:46 pm

    I have just one comment, er actually question for this band: Hey Leslie, are those real? (lol)

    I think this group should “adopt” another sister so they can compete head to head with Little Big Town and Gloriana in the middle zone on the Top 40 charts…

  5. Sayshal
    March 5, 2011 at 2:36 am

    This is an impressive song. The only thing I disagree with in this review is calling “Jenny” forgettable…that was a good, personable story song, and I think the instrumentation may have even been better than the superb instrumentation here in “If I Run”.

    This one has been struggling on the charts, but I hope this group can have success.

  6. Bobby Peacock
    March 7, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    I think The Harters are cursed. Their songs tend to debut high and then move backward every week they’re on.

    Also, I think the brothers’ harmonies are a bit too loud on this and “Jenny”, but that’s my only complaint of either.

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