Swiss singer/multi-instrumentalist will officially release her new album, the 13-track On The Hills, on March 19, 2013. For those not in the know, Happy is an internationally known songstress has performed live and received radio play in the US, Europe and Japan. The 26 year-old vocalist broke onto the music scene in 2007 with the release of her premiere platter Back Together.
Hailed as “a childlike playful folk girl” with a “soft voice, skittish lyrics and flowery videos”, she was praised for her casual self-attitude and songs such as the titular track “Back Together”. Happy had previously studied audio visual arts near Amsterdam and her music video “Du Da, Ich Da” was a portion of her final exam.
The next year she followed it up by producing the more mature Flowers, Birds, and Home. Here she was assisted by: Ephrem Lüchinger (keys), Gregor Heini (guitar), André Pousaz (double bass) and Arno Troxler (drums). It was released in Austria, Canada, Germany and Japan. She was soon scoring gigs both in Europe and North America. Happy also began performing duets with many musicians and was featured on tunes by the likes of Yello, Stephan Eicher, Monotales, The Sad Riders, Coal and Zwicker.
Finally, in 2011, Happy would realize one of her dreams by releasing an album on which she wrote for an orchestra. Titled Hiding with the Wolves, this symphonic pop piece was highlighted by the work of Camerata Musica, an orchestra from Lucerne, and guitarist Charlie Zimmerman. It scraped into the Swiss Top 10 Album Charts and was also released in Germany and the US where it received airplay on more than 60 radio stations. Happy also put out the single (and accompanying video for) “Sarah”.
Her new album, On The Hills, is said to bring together the best of her earlier albums presenting her “at the peak of her career”. On this recording Happy leads the way with lead and backing vocals, guitars, glockenspiel, vibes, organs, philicorda, percussion, drums, piano and mandolin. She is backed by an assortment of additional artists including Lüchinger (organs, philicorda, piano, accordion, percussion, drums, backing vocals, glockenspiel, vibes and xylophone), Pousaz (double and electric bass), Troxler (drums), Mitch Gsell (violin), Barbara Lang (viola) and Felix Schueli (violoncello).
The album opens on the title track “On The Hills”. It’s a more than acceptable lead-in but fails to truly demonstrate everything Happy can do. The track features Zimmerman on dobro and is meant to be a “declaration of love” to the freedom of an indie artist.
The second selection is “Canada”. This, too, is a nice enough number but is perhaps too soon forgotten once one hears the third cut. Indeed, “Patient Heart” easily takes the “Critic’s Choice”. It’s slightly catchy, interesting and fun as Happy often echoes the added electronica.
“Big Boy” follows here and features Rykka and Timothy Jaromir on backing vocals. (At this point, while listening to the disc your rockin’ reviewer’s 15 year-old son—William Jared James Phoenix– was already commenting positively on the piece. That’s generally a good sign to anyone hoping to sell songs to anyone under 30.
The next number is “Not Long Ago”. This tune is either made or broken by guest vocalist Scott Matthew who duets with Happy. His dark harmonies are perhaps initially an acquired taste but it all somehow comes together before the end of the track. Matthew also plays ukulele and guest musician Rodrigo Arevena takes over on double bass.
The sixth selection is “Dance With Another”. This one has a somewhat ethereal feel to it and includes Zimmerman on backing vocals. Zimmerman also provides backing vocals on “Sailors” which seems to somehow lift elements from more than one genre and still blend them together in an efficient manner.
“For A While” is a fun track that would no doubt work even better live. “Land Of Horses” and “Too Fast” further demonstrate Happy’s vocal stylings as well as the oft’times unconventional instrumentations. They are overshadowed, however, by the more personal, intimate “I’m Over You”.
Zimmerman encores on guitar on “I’m Busy” and this album of sometimes dreamy, elaborate arrangements and warm works closes with the fan favorite “Caramel”. It’s a good ending to a tuneful trip through unique melodies and multiple genres. While “Not Long Ago”, Heidi was unknown here, once music fans check out On The Hills they will surely want to get Happy!
My name is Phoenix and . . . that’s the bottom line.