The Haley Sisters
ALWAYS BY MY SIDE
Prime Country Music, but Made In Yorkshire.
The Haley Sisters aka Jo-Ann and Becky have been criss-crossing Britain’s highways and by-ways
playing great Country music for 25 years or more; long before the mainstream media deemed it ‘fashionable.’
During my days at Maverick magazine I was well aware of the sisters; mostly because they were friends and firm favourites of my mentor, and then Editor Alan Cackett; so when he sent me this, their latest album I felt honoured indeed.
Even though I pretty much knew what to expect; I was still astounded by how good….and indeed ‘cool’ opening track Always By My Side was. WOW! Sweet Country Music indeed. The sister’s voices harmonise in a way only siblings can, and the song itself is pure quality.
At times it’s difficult to believe that these songs weren’t written on Music Row and recorded in one of Nashville’s hottest and most expensive studios, Luckiest Girl Alive would be a solid gold hit if recorded by Dolly Parton; but honestly wouldn’t sound half as good as this relatively simple recording, and that’s not meant to take anything away from the marvelous musicians who work so hard to create something that sounds so ‘simple’!
Eight of the ten songs here come from the sister’s own pens; and they definitely know what their fans want, with the thoughtful love songs Letter To My Heart and Somewhere Along The Road both feeling like a punch to the heart; but making me press ‘repeat’ after hearing them that first day.
While it’s all too easy to draw favourable comparisons with the Dixie Chicks (especially as they include their version of Bruce Robison’s Travelling Soldier) but The Haley Sisters have a bit more edge and earthiness to their songwriting, in the way Nanci Griffith or Laura Cantrell have, with If I Had My Time Over Again, being a perfect example of what I mean.
Tucked away in the middle is an extraordinary song called Hello Dad that will stop you right in your tracks, just as it did me. Very sentimental – yes; but every word is from the bottom of the heart and sung with such passion it will bring a tear to a glass eye.
While most other songs err on the quieter more introspective side of Country; the Haley Sisters can Rock the Honky Tonk when they need to, with my favourite track here being Can’t Walk Away From The Blues, which has some spark inducing guitar and mandolin in the background, but it’s Becky’s voice that you will remember.
Two other songs deserve a mention too; Song For Jim is a toe-tapper of the finest order featuring some mighty fine Cajun-style accordion. The other is a song I instantly recognised; but don’t know why as I can’t find it in my collection under anyone else; this version of David Allan Coe’s Would You Lay With Me (In a Field of Stone) really shows the versatility that this delightful duo possess in spades.
RELEASED March 20th 2017