There are many ways of judging what fantastic progress Harrogate acoustic duo The Paper Waits have made beyond the town this year.
One simple test is that, while I was happy to book the fledgling act in a support slot to spiky Leeds indie band Chaika at Major Tom’s Social in late 2015 for a not-for-profit Charm night, they would have to be headliners now.
Since Ellie Hunzinger (vocals) and Rufus Beckett (guitar and vocals) released their debut EP Perfect Storm in Harrogate’s North Bar in March, the impressive duo with the stunning harmonies have not only built their name, they’ve helped carry Harrogate’s far and wide
The peak, perhaps, came earlier this summer when Ellie was asked by Jericho Keys of BBC Music Introducing to perform with a 45-piece orchestra in the magnificent St Lawrence Church in York in a special one-off concert called The Stringing Sixties.
Ellie said: "It’s been quite an interesting year for us. . The highlight has to be the EP launch - we still can’t quite believe the reception we had. As musicians, it’s impossible to ignore the worry that people won’t be receptive to your music, but the venue ended up being full to capacity and the feedback was incredible. We felt a little blessed that night.
"We have been writing a lot of new material in the last month or two and the way in which we write collaboratively has changed; this has inevitably seen our sound evolve which is quite exciting for us.
"It really feels that we are going in the right direction now. The support that we have had along this journey from Jericho Keys from BBC introducing has been astounding and this has definitely spurred us on."
Rufus said: "It's been a great year for The Paper Waits so far. The initial CD run of our EP has now sold out.
"We've been lucky to receive a lot of support from Jericho Keys at BBC Introducing, Ellie even got the chance to perform at the Stringing sixties event earlier in the summer.
"It's an exciting time to be part of the Harrogate music scene, with bands like Litany racking up plays on Spotify and performing at Reading and Leeds.
"We have plans to gig around the country through the rest of the year and plans to record an album."
As for Perfect Storm, all three tracks boast a quiet intensity and harmonic flair - Americana with a twist.
It’s a homegrown success, literally, as the EP was recorded at Harrogate’s Homefire Recording Co.
Opening track Devil On My Shoulder, the most memorable moment here, sounds like it was recorded in a dank cell in the Deep South.
Dark but toe-tapping, it’s blessed with sharp, jangling guitar chords, smouldering vocals and a subtle electronic ambient background.
Elsewhere the feel of Johnny Cash mixed with The XX continues with Feed My Ways, a smoochy languid feel.
Finally, title track Perfect Storm returns to the atmospherics of the opening track, boasting a lovely melody, Ellie’s aching vocals and another great, clanging chord sequence by Rufus.
As for the future of the talented The Paper Waits, there's a chance they may even expand their line-up.
Ellie said: "We plan to spend the next couple of months locked away in the studio to continue writing and arranging the new material and then we’ll be ready to get it out there.
"We may even introduce another musician or two into our live sets..."
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