Vance Gilbert GOOD GOOD MAN

Vance Gilbert
Good Good Man
Self-Release

The Best of American Music That Evolved Into Americana.

Even in these days of information overload on the World Wide Web and most probably Social Media, I’m still a great believer in ‘word of mouth’ when it comes to discovering good music; as that’s the format I hope RMHQ can still be in 2020.
Which brings me to this album by Boston sexagenarian Vance Gilbert, who via ‘word of mouth’, recently came to the attention of Cary Baker at Conqueroo; one of our industries most illustrious PR companies; and has passed it on to us simply because he knows our eclectic tastes, and ‘he wants the world to find out about Gilbert!’
A brief look at Gilbert’s bio shows a man who treads a very singular path regardless of the financial consequences …… something of a ‘musicians musician’?
Opening track Pie and Whiskey is a delightfully laid-back acoustic Americana-Folk song that reminds me of James Taylor AND Keb Mo! That’s the beauty of this album; Gilbert’s bizarre ‘influences’ come together to create what is almost pure Americana Music, as it gathers together Folk, Country, Blues, Soul and even dashes of Jazz to generate simple songs that are incredibly complex yet always easy on the ear.
The Soulful title track Good Good Man slides in at #2 and feels like you are listening to a smooth 21st Century ballad singer in the mould of Brook Benton, but who can write a razor sharp song.
Gilbert’s Jazz roots shine brightly on the humorous Zombie Pattycake and again on the slightly more rocky Trust; then he casually enters Randy Newman territory on the haunting Cousin Shelly’s Stationwagon; which kinda defies genrefacation.
It’s a personal thing of course; but I love it when a musician can dip in and out of genres at will; and use their distinctive vocals to thread them altogether; and Vance Gilbert is a Master Craftsman in this sphere.
The autobiographical Hitman and the beautiful love song Sunflower are the type of songs that we associate with those ‘coffee shop’ legends of the 1960’s but are also as contemporary as anything you are going to hear on College Radio today.
As a ‘man of a certain age’ myself; two particular songs here felt like Gilbert was singing about me; and me alone …….. although they are probably very personal to him, himself.
There’s a quaint false start to the jaunty Gospel-Folk of Another Good Day Above Ground (Lord) which is pretty much what it ‘says on the tin’ but very thoughtful too; and there’s a similar vein to the awesome When I Cross Over; which has some incredible lines tucked away that it’s easy to miss if you’re not careful.
When I cross over
I’ll ask forgiveness
Because I walk uncertain
I walk on his shoulder
My burning question about Heaven’s perfection
Why can’t we have that
Right here on Earth?”

That’s the joy in this great discovery; not just has Vance Gilbert got an amazing and very distinctive voice; but he can write a mighty powerful song too.
Then there is the song that tightened my chest and made me forget to breathe for a few seconds.
Wildflower.
Yet again, it sounds like no other song here; yet somehow fits in quite perfectly. Part history lesson, part love song and part poetry Wildflower is as timeless as Americana and American Folk Music gets; harking back to the early 1960’s while evoking many happy memories of the 1970’s bed-sit singer songwriters I still adore; yet somehow still managing to sound as fresh as anything Ed Sheeran or Adele will produce this decade.
I alluded earlier to Gilbert’s songwriting having poetic qualities; and that comes to fruition on the final track The Day Before November which is a fearsome Beat Poem about Gilbert’s childhood with more detail in every line than Scorsese manages in thew whole of The Irishman!
Vance Gilbert has been around the scene in Boston and Philadelphia for a very long time, gigging, touring, supporting many, many ‘stars’ and releasing several previous albums; but this release is stunning from start to finish and really does deserve to bring him to a much wider audience across the globe!

I love this quote:
 “If Joni Mitchell and Richie Havens had a love child, with Rodney Dangerfield as the midwife, the results might have been something close to the great Vance Gilbert.” As the above quote from Richmond magazine suggests, Vance Gilbert defies stereotypes. It’s little wonder then that he also exceeds expectations. In this case, those two qualities go hand in hand. 

“I’m black, I sing, I play an acoustic guitar, and I don’t play the blues,” Gilbert insists. That may be a broad statement, but it rings with truth.

Released 24th January 2020
https://www.vancegilbert.com/

The Legends of Tomorrow DON'T GO TO NASHVILLE

The Legends of Tomorrow
DON’T GO TO NASHVILLE
Self-Release

Old Songs, New Songs and Songs to Stir Your Folk Rocking Heart.

I thought I was finished with reviewing music from 2019 when this EP arrived in the Christmas post and I found myself with a free morning; and nothing to do.
While I thought I had my ‘finger on the pulse’ of Northern Irish Roots Music; I’ve not heard of Colin Harper nor his friends aka The Legends of Tomorrow; but trusted the source PR Company so give this EP a listen.
Without it being a ‘spoiler’ in any way, all 5 songs here are very, very different in style, content and even musical genre not least because each is sung by a different singer ; Mickey Rafferty (The Minnows), Ciaran Gribbin (Leya/INXS/solo artist), Paul Casey (solo artist), Janet Henry (solo artist) and Lyndsay Crothers (Wookalily); but ……. that’s no hardship at all when you give them a chance to breathe.
The title track Don’t Go To Nashville is a right ole ‘piss n vinegar’ America song about the current trend of British songwriters rocking up in Nashville and spending their Summer Holidays (and savings) to join up with locals to write ‘the next big thing’. It’s a very cleverly constructed song with a sharply observed story; although there just may be a hint of jealousy in the off beat!
I actually agree with the sentiment; because apart from or two specific songwriters in the RMHQ ‘Circle’ who have history with this source and indeed actual success; I receive numerous Press Releases from acts stating that they have spent time in Nashville writing songs with people I have; and never will have heard of; sorry but it just doesn’t impress; unless the songs are actual zingers; and they invariably aren’t.
This is followed by a melodic Indie Rocker in the mould of Icicle Works or The The, called When It’s Gone which touches on the changes; both physical and emotional that surround us every day; especially the iconic buildings that we grew up with that are disappearing and being replaced with bland 21st structures.
Next up, Liberation is the type of 1970’s Folk Rocker that I used to sit listening to with my massive headphones clutched tightly to my ears as I tried to unravel the meaning of life; and I never found them, but that doesn’t stop this delightful tune with delicious harmonies being something that I can recommend wholeheartedly to you.
I feel guilty about not making the final song Greta Thunberg At The End of Time my Favourite Song; as it’s very much a ‘song of our times’ and Lyndsay Crother’s vocal performance is spellbinding as she battles, like the young Swede with a cacophony that builds around her.
But; my Favourite Song here, People On The Highway is actually a Bert Jansch song that Harper and friends have dusted down and lovingly tidied up by adding a gorgeous modern Folk Rock tune featuring some inspirational violin playing from Martin Hayes too; and Janet Henry sings her heart out like a siren on the rocky cliffs beckoning the casual listener in with her soft yet dangerous charms.
All five of these beautifully constructed songs, that straddle Americana and British Folk Rock with consummate ease, are a lovely if angsty antidote to all of the false bonhomie and political nonsense surrounding me and indeed you at the moment.
RMHQ Recommends.

Released November 11th 2019
http://colin-harper.com/news/

Catherine MacLellan COYOTE

Catherine MacLellan
Coyote
Self-Release

A Charmingly Simple Production Masks Some Deeply Personal and Intricate Songs.

I can’t believe that it’s been five full years since Catherine MacLellan released RAVEN …… but it is.
Where does the time go?
Unlike Coldplay and the likes, Cat hasn’t been sitting on a beach contemplating her navel while sipping Champagne Cocktails in-between releases; nope she’s been as busy as ever celebrating the life and work of her father Gene MacLellan in song and on stage. Who he? Only the man who wrote the legendary Snowbird; among many other slightly less celebrated but still amazing songs.
But that ‘break’ and presumably re-discovering her father’s masterworks, has given Ms MacLellan a fresh outlook on her own writing; or that’s how it seems to me on the mysterious COYOTE that opens the album. While a ‘simple’ love lorn Folk song at first hearing; the singer uses the marvelous imagery of the howling coyotes in the hills around her home, for the spirit of love that is missing from her relationship.
“Coyote running through the fields
Followed by the moon
Wild thing you don’t bend or yield
It’s me who gives in too soon”

There’s a charming simplicity to all 14 of the songs here; but don’t fall into the trap that any of the songs are ‘simple’; Catherine has the ability to create beautiful, yet melancholic stories that paint vivid pictures in your head.
Night Crossing; about her travelling on the night ferry from England to Holland is an odd subject; but add a Celtic fiddle and you feel your are standing in her place; and the loneliness she describes in Breath of Wind is heartbreakingly beautiful, in a way that I could never find the words to describe.
That’s the thing with songwriters like Catherine; they have the ability to find light when the rest of us only shade; which is a true gift.
Sweet By and By and Too Many Hearts are two perfect examples of the Songwriters Craft being used in a way mere mortals can never express. The first is a wonderful story of Cat meeting up with an old friend at a bar she was singing in and the cat n mouse interplay that followed; whereas the latter is a dark slice of Alt. Folk describing the confusion we all feel when a relationship ends.
Too many hearts are broken over fear
Too many hearts are broken here my dear
So let’s not break these hearts of ours
Send them up to the moon and stars
.”
Like most of her contempories Cat appears to have given up trying to write a commercial song that will become a radio hit (or should that be Spotify?); she writes from the heart; and whatever will be, will be; try listening to the engaging Come Back In or Roll With The Wind to hear a Master Craftswoman at work …… which also brings me to my Favourite track; Emmet’s Song.
Even without the aid of a crib sheet, you know this is a deeply personal song about a real person; and so it is. ‘Emmet’ is Cat’s ‘troubled’ teenage nephew who came to live with her. This could have been about me during my own teenage years; or at least two nephews and a niece of my own ….. and I’m sure you will find someone close to you who has lived through the same experiences and, mercifully come out the other side without the aid of an Aunt like Catherine MacLellan. 10/10 all around.
I’ve been playing this album amid the hub-bub of the early Holiday season alongside the most spiteful General Election I’ve ever known; and it’s been a perfect antidote to the utter madness that is currently surrounding me.
There are as many fragile songs here as there are optimistic and even empowering songs; such is Catherine McClellan’s wonderful way with storytelling; that she can make them flow like life itself.

Released 6th December 2019
http://www.catherinemaclellan.com/
https://my.labelstore.ca/releases/803057039821-coyote-mp3.html


Edd Donovan and the Wandering Moles GUARDIANS OF OUR TIME

Edd Donovan and the Wandering Moles
GUARDIANS OF OUR TIME
Self-Release

Enlightened, Articulate and Often Challenging Folk Songs From the Heart.

Edd got in touch regarding this album a few weeks ago following our review of Danny Schmidt’s recent release, which he had bought on the strength of our words.
So courteously I listened to the attached couple of tracks and ten minutes later sent an e-mail saying ‘I couldn’t wait to here the full album.’
Opening track When The Day Begins starts with the tweeting of the bird on the cover art, then neatly dissolves into a beautifully layered song that somehow sounds a bit like Nick Drake singing a Lloyd Cole song. Without being in the least bit pretentious, it’s very eloquent and articulate; in the way Lloyd Cole is on his records (which we still love at RMHQ).
I don’t know either of Edd’s previous albums, but he tells me that this is a more DIY effort in his home, using the barest of technology. If that is true, he has a career as a Producer/Engineer in the offing if the songwriting thing doesn’t work out.
His songs and stories are quite clever, bordering on the intellectual; which is a rarity these days; but they still manage to be accessible for plebs like me.
I suppose that this album will more than likely fall into the Folk Category, as that’s the golden thread that weaves Meetings Adjourned, Whatever It Is and of course Folk Man Blues together, but in 2019 that moniker is something of a misnomer as Donovan dips into many different musical pots to paint his pictures with words.
Hearing Bowerbird or Eva and Seen By The Road evoked memories of hearing Seth Lakeman or John Martyn for the very first time; such is the way Donovan makes a complex story and chord progression sound very easy on the ear, while still bamboozling the brain.
Finally reading the accompanying Press Release this morning; without actually ‘giving the game away’ the two songs that I liked the best suddenly unravelled like a Dead Sea scroll.
Edd Donovan continues working as a Mental Health Social Worker to supplement his burgeoning music career; he is also a ‘Political Activist’ which he very subtly slides into his songs; hence the magnificent title track Guardians Of Our Time now makes complete sense; with his subtle prose cleverly turning this humble and melodic song into an Anthem of Our Times; which brings me to my Favourite Song here JC, which is evidently not about the Son of God, nor a friend or relation of that name. No; it may or may not be about the Leader of the Left and Champion of the Poor; Mr Jeremy Corbyn …… not that he’s mentioned by name; but nudge, nudge, wink, wink ….. I’m pretty sure it is; and if it is my world is a whole lot better because this song exists.
As well as doing almost everything himself, Edd has enlisted the beautiful voice of Emma Parker to harmonise with on several songs ; and while some of the instruments aren’t always instantly recognisable; but Chris Cundy (Timbre Timber/Cold Specks) provides Bass Clarinet (?); but that matters not a jot; as this is all about the songs themselves and Edd Donovan’s overall sound.; and it’s a fascinatingly beautiful sound at the end of the day.

Released November 19th 2019
https://www.edddonovan.co.uk/

Stephen Fearing THE UNCONQUERABLE PAST

Stephen Fearing
THE UNCONQUERABLE PAST
Factor

The King of Canadiacana Surpasses Himself.

As many of you will already know; I’m a huge fan of Stephen Fearing, but baring in mind he’s a Multi Juno winner and a major part of one of the world’s greatest Rock & Roll bands Blackie and the Rodeo Kings he still manages to fly under the radar.
Why would that be, when you hear opening track on this, his 13th solo album; Break Your Mother’s Heart? In theory it’s simple ‘Rock n Roll’ song about leaving home to pursue a musical career; but this particular song is oh so much more deep and indeed meaningful. The relatively simple construction belies a stunning story that will touch most of our hearts as Fearing’s voice occasionally wobbles in a way that sounds like he’s fighting back the tears.
Phew …….. what a start!
It would be oh so easy for a songwriter of Stephen Fearing’s ‘age’ to follow a succesful formula and keep churning ’em out; plenty others do it; but our Canadian friend constantly seeks to learn from others and challenge his own excellent talents.
I’m pleased to hear a few Rockers in among the intimate musings; with Stay With Me sounding like a wonderful marriage between The Band and Tom Petty, while Christine is pure Sun era Rockabilly that will even have Peg-Leg Pete on the dancefloor!
I’m not sure what I like best; a songwriter using their own experiences to tell a story or when they delve deep into the pits of their imaginations; and sometimes as I suspect with the majestic Sunny the two merge with grace. Stephen virtually whispers this story of a Transgender boy/girl leaving home, only to find love with a heterosexual man. Heartbreaking and powerful in equal measures.
Both Someone Else’s Shoes and the exquisite title track The Unconquerable Past are another two fragile songs that ask more questions than they can ever dare to answer; and more often than not it takes a poet or songwriter to ask these questions; and Stephen Fearing is both.
Perhaps it’s an age thing though; but for me Fearing’s most memorable works are his intimate musings; the ones that go straight to your heart like a stiletto knife ………. Emigrant Song is a co-write with Andy White and muses on Fearing’s young life moving from Canada to Ireland and back again; but this brooding Celtic tune will cause many of us to reflect on our own heritage; and that of the thousands that are making terrifying trips to make better lives for their families.
This is immediatly followed by Fearing alone with his acoustic guitar on the heartbreaking No Country, which deals more directly with the state of the world many people find themselves in as 2019 bleeds into 2020.
For my Favourite Song I’m going to contradict my life long stance against swearing, as Marie is such a ‘song of our times’ perhaps only words such as these can spell out the anger many of us on the Liberal Left feel.
If the opening verse doesn’t reel you in like a big fat fish, then you are listening to the wrong singer and reading the wrong website:
“She said, brave yourself for the shit show coming down tomorrow
Cos I feel it’s going to look a whole lot different to today.”
Is this about Brexit? Trump in the White House? Trudeau’s student ‘high jinx’?
Who knows? But this a song that audiences will sit through in sheer silence then take the roof off at the end.
The Press Release suggests that Stephen is now dabbling in ‘Americana’. PISH!
This, just like his previous albums is …….. pure Canadiacana! These songs and the imagery they conjure up could only be Canadian …… they are all cool, intelligent, descriptive and indeed, articulate …… which is what I expect from my Canadian artists and in particular Stephen Fearing, and yet again he delivers on every single aspect.

Released 15th November 2019 (Downloads and streaming)
Released 15th December (CD’s & Vinyl ……… just in time for Santa to deliver!)

http://stephenfearing.ca/

Vera Van Heeringen WON’T BE BROKEN

Vera Van Heeringen
Won’t Be Broken
Wood & Steel Records

Intimate and Beautifully Constructed Folk Songs For Americana Fans.

Where to start?
Shall I tell you how angry this album has made me feel?
Well; I’m going to anyway.
Vera’s debut album was one of the first reviews I did for Maverick Magazine way back in 2011, and even though she was in a very, very competitive market of female singer-songwriters on the cusp of Folk and Americana it was quite obvious that she was destined to be filling Concert Halls around the world.
While her undoubted talents only gets better and better, and her last album Proper Brew is testament to that; Vera still plays in tiny venues to adoring audiences while those contemporaries (no names ED.) have gone on to fame and fortune.
Enough already!
First of all, what a wonderfully packaged CD this is …… you really are missing out if you just purchase a download…. trust me.
There’s a dark intensity to opening song Gods; and this love long is quite stunning when you listen in an empty, and preferably darkened room. Vera’s words actually shimmer as they leave the speakers and gentle mix of instruments behind her smoky voice combine to send a shiver down your back.
For such an intimate album; that ‘heady feeling’ will never leave you as Vera embroils you in the tightly wrapped stories like the title track Won’t Be Broken and later Dinah, which is Folk Music Deluxe; especially the opening verse:
Looking back among the trees
I see her standing there
If only she’d return my gaze
My Soul I would bare
.”
In her Press Release Vera says that ‘this is the album she’s always wanted to make’; and when you hear the divine Running, or perhaps Sleep Song and even more apt, the gentle Folk Rocker Blankets which closes the record; I swear you can feel her ‘smiling’ as she sings her articulate tales.
I’ve got a couple of songs swirling around in my head as I try to select a Favourite Song. The Celtic Gather The Words is a worthy contender, as is the dark and brittle Dancing Shoes. Even the instrumental White Tip; which puts Ms Van Heeringen on a whole other plateau when it comes to playing the acoustic guitar was an option at one stage; but I’m going with my heart (and gut) and choosing Man With a Gun.
As I’d hoped for it has more twists and turns than a forest road; but you really must stop everything you are doing the first time you play this record…… who knew Vera Van Heeringen actually had the ability to shock with her charming words and tunes?
To some degree this is a collaborative effort with trusted regulars Andy Seward and Dave Luke playing superbly alongside a handful of specially selected guests; but this is very much an album that will hopefully give our favourite Dutch singer-songwriter the boost her talent deserves.

Released September 5th 2019
https://veravanheeringen.com/home


.



The Orphan Brigade feat. John Prine; Captain’s Song (Sorley Boy)

The Orphan Brigade feat. John Prine
Captain’s Song (Sorley Boy)

In many ways; or at least in my little world The Orphan Brigade are something of a ‘Supergroup’, as they consist of RMHQ Favourites
Joshua Britt, Ben Glover, and Neilson Hubbard  plus a vast array of friends who regularly appear on these pages.
The new album, TO THE EDGE OF THE WORLD comes out on 27th September; and to tease us they’re releasing CAPTAIN’S SONG (Sorley Boy) as a single …… and the world should rejoice; not just because it’s one of the finest songs on a very fine album; but features Living legend John Prine!

“For any history buffs, the song refers to the infamous local chieftain from the 1500s, Sorley Boy MacDonnell, who’s descendants still have strong connections with the Glens of Antrim.”  -The Orphan Brigade



Helen McCookerybook GREEN

Helen McCookerybook
Green
Self-Release/Bandcamp

It’s Folk Jim; But Not As We Know It.

Aaaahhhh Helen McCookerybook, possibly or is it probably, the sweetest Punk Rocker that ever lived?
This review is far too short to list all of Helen’s accomplishments in the last 40 years (eh? 40 years and her still so young looking?) but if there’s any aspiring young musicians out there; especially of the female variety……. forget Miley Cirus; check Helen’s ‘story’ and back catalogue out if you are looking for inspiration.
Enough of looking back; onto today and her latest release GREEN.
Opening track Rainbow of the Colour Green is charm personified; with a spiky poetic spine to it and when the harmonies eventually sweep in, you hardly notice them the first time as you will be so engrossed in the song itself.
It’s fair to say that Helen has a distinctive singing voice; and it’s absolutely perfect for her joyful songs; even when the subject matter is a tad on the dark side…… Danse Macabre and At The Bathing Pond instantly spring to mind; but I’m still on a learning curve with the album so more songs are yet to unravel.
Even at her most serious there’s always a smile in Ms McCookerybook’s voice; which is why I find her albums so charming; but it’s her songwriting that makes her stand above her peers. Without ever patronising us, Helen includes a couple of politically charged songs; So Long Elon is a stunning observation of our planet’s future and Where Is Home treads a similar but more local path; or does it? And, who else could write such articulately clever bittersweet love songs like Change the DJ or 21st Century Blues and still make them so accessible.
Two songs in particular stand out like blood red roses in a hedgerow; the quirky and perceptive Saturday Night With the London Set with it’s Jazz-Lite undertones and my Favourite Song here; A Good Life With a Bad Apple which is so complex it will have you leaning in towards the speaker to decipher it; but when you do you will recognise someone from your circle that fits Helen’s moving and colourful description.
Is this Folk Music? Of course it is; but it follows more in the tradition of British Legends Jake Thackray and Victoria Wood than it does Woody Guthrie or Bob Dylan as Helen’s songs and stories are simply timeless and have a deceptive simplicity will appeal to young children and old fogeys like me as well as all you hipsters with your well manicured beards, tattoos and designer clothing.

Released June 19th 2019
www.mccookerybook.com
https://helenmccookerybook.bandcamp.com/



Sam Baker HORSES & STARS

Sam Baker
Horses and Stars
Self-Released

A Comprehensive Collection of Sam Baker’s Songs, Played Live With No Safety Net.

I can’t remember exactly when I ‘got into’ Sam Baker.
It was a while ago and probably one of his regular shows at the Jumpin’ Hot Club in Newcastle, I don’t think it was via an album.
But now, like so many others I’m a bonafide acolyte of several years standing, poring over his every word and note.
Mrs. Magpie can’t stand him!
Right from the songs on his 2004 debut album Mercy, Sam deliberately sets out to challenge the listener in many ways, not least emotionally, and if you come out the other end unscathed you can count yourself a ‘fan’.
While I can’t think of one, I’m still surprised that is Sam Baker’s first ever Live Album; especially as his concerts are invariably memorable in many, many ways; and that is the case with this raw and exciting performance which finds Baker completely alone on stage in Buffalo NY in July 2018 with just his guitar, harmonica and a wood board to click the timings on as his safety net .
In fairness Baker could have opened the concert with just about any of songs and it would have been ‘nearly perfect’ so the biting lyrics that make up Boxes fits the bill perfectly.
What follows is a comprehensive collection of songs from throughout the songwriter’s relatively short career; and while the studio versions may not fit together quite so appealingly, stripped back to bone and sinew Baker draws you into songs that were written over 10 years apart like Waves and the magnificent Same Kind of Blue sound like he’s somehow plucked them both from the ether earlier in the day and is performing them for the first ever time.
In this particular format Sam Baker occasionally sounds like he must have been a Beat Poet in an earlier life, as he makes no attempt to ‘sing’ in the traditional manner; but that just makes Angel Hair and Broken Fingers even more intensely beautiful and articulate than ever.
With so many great songs to choose from across his career to fit in I can understand why they’ve had to edit out most of the applause and all of the ‘stories behind the songs’ which is a bit of a loss as they are integral to any Sam Baker show ……. would a Double Album have killed you?
Hey ho, that’s only a tiny criticism; as what is here has made choosing virtually impossible as each and every one could and should be my Favourite Track; how can I not choose Mennonite? Come on ……. Odessa? But, it’s a song for our times! Sorry, but I’m going for a song that is an essential inclusion in any Baker gig; Iron from that very first album Mercy and is sadly still as relevent today as it was way back then.
I can’t think of a better way to start your own discovery of Sam Baker and his songs than this album; if you come out the other end unscathed you are going to absolutely love his studio albums!

Released August 23rd 2019
https://www.sambakermusic.com/
https://www.sambakermusic.com/copy-of-m-e-r-c-y





Harry Harris I FEEL DRUNK ALL THE TIME

Harry Harris
I Feel Drunk All The Time
Self-Release

Scottish Americana that Criss-Crosses Indie, Folk-Rock and Classic Folk.

It seems like 100 years ago that I reviewed Harry Harris’ debut album (2010) for a magazine (which shall remain nameless!) and out of nowhere he got in touch a couple of weeks ago asking if I’d give his latest and 3rd release an airing.
Well dear reader, a lot has happened to young Harry in the intervening years; he no longer resides in Wales….. now it’s Ye Olde Edinburgh where he sells himself as a singer/songwriter/journalist now; where the latter job includes RMHQ Favourites Nylon, Vice, Mundial and more.
While I vaguely remember the first album as being on the cusp of the Folk bracket; now I’ve played I FEEL DRUNK ALL THE TIME quite a few times I’d definitely now describe him as being an all encompassing Singer-Songwriter as the songs here are a lot more rounded and contemporary with a foot in several camps, starting with the powerful Marathon; a deep, dark and brooding tale that uses that ‘sport’ as a metaphor for dear life itself; and it manages to tick a lot of Americana and Post-Indie boxes too.
Perhaps the use of a saxophone in the Memphis gives it a hint of Grown-Up Blue Eyed Soul; but don’t think you can really dance to it; as it’s the type of song you will find yourself wallowing in late at night while you try to mend a broken heart with a bottle of wine.
Harris’ songwriting is universal, and as this album more or less came about following the death of his best friend at an unfeasibly young age; everyone will find not just solace but a kinship in Bloodletting and the title track itself I FEEL DRUNK ALL THE TIME, and the gently rolling guitar in the latter l take your breath away.
For a Welshman; there’s a distinct Scottishness to the whole album; as it sounds like it couldn’t have been written or recorded anywhere else with the starkness of Things John Hated and Free Italian Food managing to take melancholy into a stratosphere originally inhabited by Donovan and Bert Jansch but more latterly Eddi Reader and Kris Drever.
When you have such a rich and expressive voice as Harry has, ‘Folk Music’ is always going to be the first thing you think of; the bouncy Deadliest Warrior and All My Worst Ideas (both with a band in tow) criss-cross Indie, Folk-Rock and even the latest wave of Scots-Americana with ease and indeed, rhetoric.
To a greater or lesser degree I FEEL DRUNK ALL THE TIME has caught me ‘at the right time’ as my ‘head hasn’t been in the best of places recently’ and one song in particular caught me off guard and has had me going back to it again and again; making the bucolic and brittle Making a Go Of This my Favourite Song here; although the off-kilter subject matter may not appeal to everyone; but the sentiment will keep you coming back peeling away the layers until you crumble like house built on sand too.
It may sound odd calling this collection of deeply personal dark and brooding songs a ‘pleasant surprise’; but it has been as Harry Harris is a mighty fine songwriter and singer too; and I’d have been very disappointed if I’d missed this rather beautiful and brittle album.

Released June 21st 2019
http://www.harryharrismusic.com/
https://harryharris.bandcamp.com/