Self Issued (label)
13 December 2015 (released)
13 December 2015
I think that artists like Mark Harrison get less than their fair share of kudos and appreciation.
He plays beautifully and writes songs that both move the listener and produce a wry smile from time to time and in his various live forms – in this case he is ably supported by Charles Bonfield on Double Bass – he creates a bond between singer and audience that is rare in this day and age.
Harrison is a storyteller in the classic Blues form, tales of his experiences and of the different themes to his life. The stories are relevant to his audience and he has somehow created a genuinely British Blues within the classic form.
Playing his National Resonator or a twelve string, there are no ripping solos or pyrotechnical playing, his guitar chimes like a bell and the gentle playing lulls you into following his words instead of being the be all and end all of the song. Couple that to the tales he tells of the songs or little self-deprecating jokes at his own or his fellow musicians and it would take a hard hearted type of person not to be smiling all the way through.
The songs are, mainly, from his latest album ‘The World Outside’ and the simple presentation adds to the quality of the songs from opener ‘Big Mary’s House’ to his personal statement about modern masculinity in ‘Hardware Store’.
He has a relatively deadpan delivery (he does originate from Coventry after all) but there is no shortage of understated emotion or subtly twinkling humour. However, when the song requires it he manages a harder edged sound – ‘Crematorium Blues’ or ‘Bombs Coming Down’.
The recording quality of the album is superb, every note and lyric coming over clearly and with a sense of the size and acoustic of the Wigan church he was recorded in. Harrison is an excellent guitarist with very much his own sound either finger picking or playing occasional slide and Charles Bonfield’s double bass and percussion gives him just enough backing but never dominates.
All told this is a lovely album and perfectly represents what sounds to have been a fine night in Wigan.