Martin Harley, Daniel Kimbro, and Sam Lewis are from Hertfordshire, England; Knoxville, Tennessee; and Nashville, respectively. Each is an established player on his own and the three have joined forces to record a gem of an album in the vein of the early American songbook. Harley is best known for his skills as a fine blues and roots artist who pairs dynamic vocals with serious guitar and lap steel chops. Kimbro is a Grammy-nominated multi-instrumentalist in demand for his prowess on the double bass. Lewis is a highly regarded singer-songwriter that Chris Stapleton has called “a modern Townes Van Zandt.” He has toured extensively, and his original songs have captivated audiences wherever he has played.
The trio has crafted a 12-track recording of originals that capitalizes on the unique talent and experience each member brings to the table. The result is a collection of sometimes quirky songs that introduce interesting characters such as “Grey Man,” who listens to his heartbeat for something to do. Harley plays compelling slide lines behind the vocals on a 1930 Martin 000-18 tuned to open E. Lewis plays his ’70s Guild dreadnought and provides toe-tapping rhythm, and Kimbro holds down the bottom. On “Neighbors,” the group displays their tight-knit vocal harmonies in a humorous number that may remind some of their own neighbors past or present. Harley shows off his slide work on “Cowboys in Hawaii,” playing a ’60s Supro Jet Airliner lap steel as he sings about a cowboy wanting to trade in his pony for waves and surfing. The recording closes with a song of caution, “Man Get a Hold of Yourself,” with Harley putting down spirited slide lines with his trusty Andreas Cuntz Weissenborn.
Harley Kimbro Lewis is a laid-back recording that is focused on songs that tell stories, some infused with humor and all featuring excellent musicianship. If you miss John Prine and are a fan of roots music, you will probably appreciate this recording.
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