Jason Hawk Harris
Love and the Dark
Pushing the Boundaries of Even Insurgent Country!
I somehow doubt Bloodshot Records have a huge team of A&R Execs haunting the dive bars across America seeking out the next Band to join their never ending roster of Insurgent Country acts.
But how else do you explain finding someone like Jason Hawk Harris? You’re never going to find his like on America’s Got Talent or whatever it’s called; and I guess there’s another 99 singers and bands who sound a bit like him who sent in cassettes of their songs too; but weirdly only Jason fits the Bloodshot bill, and he does it quite perfectly too.
I can’t even tell you what the Bloodshot ‘signature sound’ is; as every act is so very different; but right from the serenely sparkling opening track The Smoke and The Stars you just know this is a marriage made in Insurgent Country Heaven and you are the Guest of Honour.
I doubt I’m going to hear a more Countrier Country Drinkin’ song this year than Cussin’ at the Light which follows tout suite; and you can easily imagine the Ghost of George Jones smiling down benignly when he hears it; especially when Natalie Nicoles seamlessly slides in on harmony vocals.
Harris’s observations in his songs might pass a few by; especially if you are too busy dancing to Blessed Interruption, Confused or the irresistible ‘Honky-Tonky’ Red Room Blues; but at some stage take the time to actually listen to his words; you won’t regret it.
Before I get around to telling you about my Favourite Track, I’ve got to mention the staggering Grandfather which closes the album.
The only other songwriter that I can think of who would dare to write a Country song like this, is Jason Isbell, and there’s even something in Harris’ phrasing that reminds me of Isbell too and it’s only because there’s an even stronger and stranger song here that means this amazing song is only my Second Favourite Song on this record.
Would could be better than that?
Phantom Limb, is the answer.
There are so many lines I can cherry pick to explain why this particular song has taken my breath away; but I’m going to select a couplet to wet your appetite …….
Harris softly describes his mother’s funeral thus,
“I got this shirt. Smells like the viewing/
Formaldehyde, tobacco and tulips/
I’ve washed it ten times, and it won’t come out.”
Dark and dangerous, gloomy and enigmatic but always accessible and full of songs that genuinely pushes the boundaries of Country Music in all its various formats ……. and my world is so much better for knowing this album exists.
Released August 23rd 2019