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Local band Harlow brings poignant sound to Turf Club

Twin Cities-based band Harlow performed a passionate set while opening for fellow locals Maria and the Coins on Saturday.
Image by Cole Bursch
Harlow blends folk rock with alternative country to produce their sound.

Twin Cities-based band Harlow blended folk rock with alternative country at the Turf Club in St. Paul on Saturday while opening for fellow locals Maria and the Coins.

Hailing from Red Wing, Harlow recently gained local attention after playing First Avenue’s Best New Bands of 2022 show in January. Through passionate live performances and narrative lyrics, Harlow has quickly gained a sizable Twin Cities following.

On “Rainbow Trout,” Harlow’s newest release, lead vocalist Samuel Ketcham sings of countryside images while the band mixes in instrumentals. “Rainbow Trout” is a hopeful tune about new love while using fishing metaphors lyrically.

“It’s when it looks rather dim that you get a bite on your cast-out line, and you jump in the air with a rainbow shine – can’t help but stare,” Ketcham sang.

Harlow’s set also filled the Turf Club with harmonies when the band, along with the other opening act, Brooke Elizabeth, sang a lovely cover of the Gillian Welch song “Dear Someone.” A singer-songwriter who is also from Red Wing, Elizabeth played affecting acoustic folk songs during her set.

The cover of “Dear Someone” featured Elizabeth and Ketcham singing classic country while backed by guitars. Ketcham said he had been singing with Elizabeth since they met in their mutual hometown.

Harlow also played the more upbeat folk-rock anthem “Too Many Sides (Of the Same Coin).” The song may remind listeners of The Head and the Heart’s earlier music. “Too Many Sides (Of the Same Coin)” succeeds by blending Ketcham’s strong vocal melody with a catchy drum beat. The song is a soundtrack for any drive home after a hard day’s work.

Harlow ended their sentimental set by singing “Palo Alto,” one of their most popular tracks. The song tells an interwoven story of remembrance. Although the characters in the song are unclear, the portrait the band inspires with the song is magnificently tragic.

“Glad you found those old journals and gave me a few to explain what you never could as a parent – I guess it had to be written out. In those amber waves of dairy, Wisconsin in the ‘70s,” Ketcham sang with a profound reminiscence.

Harlow’s most recent EP, “Other Lives, Told,” showcases the band’s deep musicality by balancing different genres of music without sacrificing quality. Songs like “Pathetic at the Zoo” demonstrate the band’s ability to go from a catchy folk-rock anthem right into an emotional country ballad on the same project.

“Pathetic at the Zoo” brings forth a breakup ballad where Harlow uses yearning string-based instrumentation and piano to tell the story of a relationship falling apart during a trip to the zoo. The song delivers a somber lyrical story with Ketcham sorrowfully singing, “I know that it’s all free, but the lions look depressed as they see my attempt to win you back.”

Harlow’s performance at the Turf Club emulated the songwriting process of a band that will surely continue to make waves in the Twin Cities music scene.

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