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CD Review: Big Harp

Published: Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Updated: Wednesday, September 7, 2011 11:09

Big Harp CD review

Terrorbird Media

Big Harp

Big Harp

White Hat

(Saddle Creek)

Grade: A-

 

Big Harp is a husband-wife duo whose debut record reflects the essence of their love story and geographic roots: a boy from a cow town and a girl from the City of Angels meet and make music like a saloon bar that midnights as a jazz club in the backwoods of some podunk town in Nebraska.

Chris Senseney delivers his lyrics in a rich, soulful baritone that convincingly switches between country drawl and club crawl. The album kicks off with "Nadine," an upbeat jazzy piano number about a naive country girl who runs away to California and into the arms of reality (as echoed in a somber piano ballad, "Oh Nadine," at the end of the album). It cools off for two tracks, then picks up some serious intrigue with "Steady Hand Behind the Wheel," "All Bets Are Off" and "Here's Hoping," which harvest some serious country-fueled soul with some interesting twists.

There's a feeling of resourcefulness on the album. The songs feel big enough without bursting with too much production. Even "Let Me Lend My Shoulder" has a small angelic choir bit that's left as an accent rather than a centerpiece as the trend tends to go. "Out In The Field" is an instant favorite on the album.

Big Harp will really grab fans of Nick Cave and his songwriting, Townes Van Zandt's sense of humor and maybe the unpredictable brashness of Captain Beefheart. Yes, this album's a lot to handle but there isn't a minute unworthy of love.

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