Self Issued (label)
17 July 2016 (released)
17 July 2016
There are literally thousands of British Blues players out there and the vast majority are poor copyists of the classic styles – I’ve lost track of the number of SRV stylists, Muddy Waters wannabees and John Lee Hooker boogiemen.
So when you come across a British artist who has his own voice – not even an attempt at an ‘American’ accent – and who writes songs that are relevant and modern with the feel of the classics then you have to laud them to the hills.
Mark Harrison has been around for about seven years or so and I have seen him live probably a dozen times either solo, in a two piece, three piece or – very rarely – full band format and however he appears his songs have the ring of truth about them.
On the face of it very simple and when you look deeper they are loaded with subtleties and pithy observations on human nature.
Musically the core is his jangling twelve string and resonator but here he adds mandolin, harmonica, Charles Benfield’s wonderful double bass as well as Ed Hopwood’s drums and percussion and the wider setting emphasises the songs rather than taking them over so that the focus is where it should be – the words and Harrison’s dry and elemental delivery.
He writes about modern traumas such as visits to the hardware store – ‘Hardware Store’ - as well as American presidents trapped into decisions they don’t want to make ‘The Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek’. Simple and beautiful songs such as ‘Josephine Johnson’ and more complex and relatively powerful numbers like ‘Mister Trouble’.
13 songs all together showing a wonderful variety of texture and style and following on from his last studio album ‘The World Outside’ showing he has developed his style and continues to progress.
Mark Harrison is a delight to see live and this has the feel of one of his live shows, just missing the between song tale-telling. One of the best albums I have enjoyed this year.