Album review: JR HARBIDGE – Long Black River

JR HARBIDGE – Long Black River [Release date 30.04.21]

Black Country based J.R. Harbidge releases his second album ‘Long Black River’, from which three singles have already dropped — ‘Wrong Side of The Fight’, ‘Break the Spell’ and ‘Sunshine Not Rain’.

“My new album,” says JRH, “is full of melody and memorable melodies, but beneath all the things that catch your ear you’ll find songs steeped in real life.” He goes on to say “It is also a great musical reflection of the times, we find ourselves in. Honest, deep, and straight from the soul.”

Sounds wise JR Harbidge straddles folk, country/Americana and the classic 70’s West Coast sounds of the likes of Crosby, Stills & Nash and the Eagles – particularly on ‘Break The Spell’. This song features wonderful vocal harmonies (all performed and arranged by Harbidge himself), added to the soothing, melodic singing of JR Harbidge.

‘We Don’t Talk About It’ tells a desperate narrative of family tragedy, yet the harmonies and music lift the mood. The Thorns come to mind on this one. He goes down a more traditional country road on ‘You Saved Me Twice’, with a neat bit of electric guitar playing from Nick Clark.

Special mention to the organ and piano playing of Pete Larkin who really adds that special something to each of the songs on here, be it the organ on ‘Side By Side’ (inspired by the war poet Martin Niemöller and based on his experience of the Holocaust) or the gentle piano on ‘We Don’t Talk About It’.

Another possible single could be the jaunty ‘When The Sun Doesn’t Shine’. It could easily be a Fleetwood Mac tune from the 70s or Bob Seger (albeit with a smoother vocal!).

What a wonderful album for the listener to immerse themselves in, from the clear production through to the 70s vibe on some of the music, JR Harbidge is one talented performer. ****

Review by Jason Ritchie

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