Album review: JR HARBIDGE – First Ray Of Light

Absolute via Universal/Sony [Release date 05.10.18]

Involved in the Midlands music scene since his teens, in bands such as the grunge-influenced Third Bullet as well as production work for a variety of outfits, a change of direction, together with a change of location, has led to a new, more introspective approach for JR Harbidge. Out goes the harder-edged rock artist to be replaced by a soulful, Americana-tinged singer songwriter. The album itself has flavours of Bob Dylan, Crosby, Still & Nash and Neil Young.

There’s a distinctive feel to Harbidge’s vocals, some nice acoustic guitar work and some fine supporting musicians who capture that laid-back Americana vibe just perfectly. The thing about the whole singer songwriter routine, though, is that you really have to have the songs to pull it off. And I’m pleased to say Harbidge has more than delivered in that department. There’s a maturity about the song-writing that belies the fact this is a new direction for the artist.

Covering themes from the personal to the political, from relationships (‘The Side Of You That Cares’) to war and peace (‘I Won’t Support Your Wars’) the songs are engaging and the lyrics elicit empathy. Harbidge has an ear for a good tune as well: “I always try and bring out melody in everything because I live to sing along to songs. If I can’t sing along to a song I’m not interested in it.”

With a voice you can easily warm to, songs you can easily relate to and melodies you can hum along to this is a worthy solo debut for JR Harbidge. Well worth exploring further. ***1/2

Review by Darren Johnson


Throughout September 2018 Get Ready to ROCK! Radio celebrated the station’s 10th anniversary and a two-hour special reflected a decade of broadcasting. “10 years in the making” features archive interviews with Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull), Todd Rundgren, Graham Bonnet, David Coverdale, John Wetton and Bob Catley.

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Power Plays w/c 12 November 2018

STEPHEN PEARCY U Only Live Twice Frontiers)
NORTHWARD Timebomb (Nuclear Blast)
MASON HILL Hold On (indie)
RAINLIGHT Field Of Souls (indie)
EDEN’S CURSE Forever (AFM Records)

Featured Albums w/c 12 November (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 TEN Illuminati (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 NORDIC UNION Second Coming (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 LARKIN POE Venom & Faith (Proper Music)

Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)

18:00-19:00 MAGGIE REILLY Heaven Sent (2013)



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