John Harvey – ‘Songs She Wrote’ album review

Artist: John Harvey
Album: Songs She Wrote
Release Date: 7th February, 2020
Label: Self Released

 

 

Review by Sean

It’s been a long time since I could say I’ve found an undiscovered gem, a diamond in the rough if you will. But sometimes life works in mysterious ways, and so it was on a random day I was scrolling through my facebook feed and saw a friend of mine mention an unknown artist. I’ve no idea what struck me to check him out, but I didn’t see any loss in doing so, and so I went for it.

I have never been so happy to follow a random music recommendation in my life as when I looked up John Harvey. His blend of dirty, Southern blues with all manner of influences makes for one unique yet comfortable listen. It starts with ‘Great Lengths’, which has a very Muddy Waters sort of sound to it, and I defy anyone not to love the groove in it.

‘Dark Days’ changes the tone quite a bit, a sort of melancholic country vibe flowing through it. Think more something Willie Nelson wrote by way of Patsy Cline.

The country tone continues for a spell, with the slightly more up tempo ‘If You Knew What You Were Missing’, helping to pick us back up, before the blues tinged ‘Downriver’ puts us back down again. I’ll admit a bit of a niggle here though, cos even at first listen I couldn’t help but liken a bit of it to something from Spinal Tap, and that sort of ruined this one for me. It’s a shame because it is a good song, but I just can’t get past it.

Thankfully we get another blues rock number to wash that last track away with ‘Even When You Misbehave’, which is definitely one of my favourites on the album. It’s exactly the sort of toe tapping blues I really dig. Two words: harmonica solo.

‘She’s Right As Rain (It’s Wrong As Sunshine) brings the country flavour back in, and it’s a simple sounding but fun one. Another favourite of mine, for sure, followed up with ‘Listen To Me Lie’, the two of them really do work well together to mellow you down some.

Title track ‘Songs She Wrote’ has a dark country edge to it, but behind it there’s the sound of some good old rock, if you listen out for that electric guitar. I’m gonna call this one my favourite over the rest, because there’s a sort of pageantry to this one, like there’s a real story here to look deeper into, and I really enjoy stuff like that.

Sadly, the album ends, but it takes us out with the nine minute long ‘I’m Gonna Lie To Her’, and this also tells a story, but does it in an interesting way. Imagine if Springsteen did a country ballad. It’s plays out like a sad story, but done with the best of intentions. Personally I’d have switched the final two tracks around in the order, as going out this way kinda leaves folk on a downer, and it being a slow song too doesn’t help, but then I’m a “go out with a bang” kinda guy.

All in all, this is an excellent album from someone who ABSOLUTELY deserves a much bigger spotlight, and honestly, for a fiver for the album, what have you got to lose?

8 out of 10

 

 

Track Listing:
1. Great Lengths
2. Dark Days
3. If You Knew What You Were Missin’
4. Downriver
5. Even When You Misbehave
6. She’s Right as Rain (It’s Wrong as Sunshine)
7. Listen to Me Lie
8. Songs She Wrote
9. I’m Gonna Lie to Her