Sunday 9 March 2014

Mark Harrison: The World Outside

The World Outside
Mark Harrison
The World Outside is the follow up to Mark Harrison's 2012 album, Crooked Smile (reviewed here).

Track List

Panic Attack
Long Gone Miles
Your Second Line
Big Mary's House
Not All Right
Where Ignorance Is Bliss
Long Long Way To Go
In The Neighbourhood
Floatin' Around
The Numbers Game
Hard Times Now

If Crooked Smile was Mark's view of the world from his own personal standpoint, then Outside World sees him step through the door to encounter the rest of the world in all its glory, from the eccentric to the scary, from hectic modern life to the hard times of a bygone era.

Inhabiting the dual worlds of blues and folk, each song has a story to tell. All 12 songs were written by Mark himself and no two sound the same. The range takes in everything from the riff-driven blues of Panic Attack to the gentle, almost lullaby folk of Floatin' Around.

Mark's vocals and guitars - namely, a 1934 National resonator and a 12-string - are augmented by his talented group, which consists of the following personnel: Charles Benfield - double bass; Will Greener - harmonica; Josienne Clarke - vocals; Ben Walker - mandolin, Ed Hopwood - drums; Guy Bennett - keyboards.

Each member is given time and space to play to their strengths. Check out the harmonica on Your Second Line, the bass on Big Mary's House, mandolin on Hard Times Now, Josienne's lead vocals on Floatin' Around...well, just listen to all of it and have fun picking out the key moments for each instrument. Mark's guitars are the glue holding the various musical elements together; the hooks and riffs draw listeners into the world of the song and the intriguing, original lyrics hold them there as each narrative unfolds.
The album presents a world of shady neighbourhood threats, escalating troubles leading to panic attacks and the closing comment, ''It was hard times then and it sure is hard times now...'' Yet like all the best blues, it gives a sweet side to counter and contrast with the bitter.

I enjoyed Crooked Smile but The World Outside represents a step further for Mark and his individual, original style. It's good know that in a world which sometimes seems to be filling up with manufactured bands and conveyor belt pop, people are still out there making real music and crafting real songs.

Follow Mark's news and tour dates over at his official website.

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