The Harters – “If I Run”
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.
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