Harley, Kimbro, Lewis

Harley, Kimbro, Lewis

Ever feel a bit jaded from the constant stream of depressing news on your media, however you consume it? Well, what you need is a good dose of Harley, Kimbro and Lewis. This exceptional album of acoustic Americana from two Americans and an Englishman is just so much good fun.

Musically, it’s toe-tapping, hum-along stuff, with strong song arrangements, wonderful harmonies and exceptional musicianship.

In case you’re not familiar with the artists: Martin Harley is a master lap slide guitarist who’s been making brilliant blues and roots music over the last two decades, performing all over the world, including such prestigious venues as the Royal Albert Hall, Union Chapel, Glastonbury and the top of Kala Patthar in the Himalayas (yes really!). He’s shared stages with artists like Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, Beth Hart, and Gavin DeGraw, and the Guardian newspaper has called his performances “spellbinding.”

Daniel Kimbro is a double Grammy-nominated bass player from Tennessee who has been touring recently with John Hiatt, the Jerry Douglas Band and the Flatt & Scruggs tribute band, The Earls of Leicester. Brought up playing bluegrass with his family, he has a music degree and has accompanied a who’s who of American artists along the way, including James Taylor, Alison Krauss, Rodney Crowell, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Roseanne Cash and The Milk Carton Kids.

Nashville-based singer-songwriter Sam Lewis makes up the rest of this fine Americana troupe. Chris Stapleton has dubbed him “a modern Townes Van Zandt” and he’s collaborated with everyone from Leon Russell to The Wood Brothers. He’s a talented performer who rivets audiences with his stories and banter as well as his music.

The twelve songs in the collection are light-hearted, clever and amusing. Things kick off with Grey Man’s nifty picked guitar, cool harmonies and Harley’s tasty slide guitar, and you immediately know this is an album you’re gonna enjoy. It’s followed by Neighbors, a hoot of a song about those people in your street you can take or leave. It’s at this point you realize what great fun seeing these guys in a show would be.

Cowboys in Hawaii is worth a mention – a real old timey vibe here, with Harley making his slide guitar conjure up the surf and sunshine of the islands – but “do they need any cowboys in Hawaii”? That’s a question, now, isn’t it? Check out the fun video released for this song .

The real delight of the set for me is Good Guy – about a slippery customer who can organize just about anything for you: “I’m not a real good guy, but I’m a real good guy to know.”

The fun continues on through to the final song, Man Get Ahold of Your Self, a jaunty number warning you off any number of stupid things that people – men – end up doing.

It’s all jolly stuff, but no matter how many times you play the songs – and if you get this album (and you should), you will play them again and again – the high standard of the music keeps it all fresh. The guys, who all share the vocals, are great singers and, of course, there’s much to enjoy with Harley’s slide guitar.

My only regret is that I won’t get to see Harley, Kimbro and Lewis play live.