Harley, Kimbro & Lewis – Self-Titled
This trio has interesting geography as their PR states: from Knoxville to Nashville via Hertfordshire (UK) is Martin Harley, Daniel Kimbro & Sam Lewis. They created an acoustic debut in East Nashville, TN & along with Daniel’s Appalachian roots, Sam’s soulful Nashville tones & Martin’s traveling riverside blues expertise – it’s like walking into an antique store.
Performed with expertise by HKL with varied experiences. Harley has been nominated for some American Music Association-UK awards, including Instrumentalist of the Year, Best Acoustic Guitarist & Best Acoustic Blues artist. Impressive.
Kimbro is a Grammy-nominated musician from Knoxville, TN with numerous recording & touring credits. Singer-songwriter Sam is a Nashville-based musician who has collaborated with the late Leon Russell & Chris Stapleton (who called Sam “a modern Townes van Zandt”). That’s a compliment.
So – the credentials show 3 accomplished proficient acoustic musicians shaping a 12-cut HKL self-titled LP (Drops February 22- HKL/Midnight Mango). Some wonderful recordings aren’t intended to be intense, bombastic with fiery solos, fancy thunderous percussion & showboating vocals. This music was designed for listening to & appreciating the music, the lyrics & their skill.
“Neighbors,” for all its simplicity is a tune that explores a lyrical subject few write about. The trio infuses the song with some humor with its finely threaded vocals & the playing is superb. Laid-back, yes. But it’s what old-fashioned singing was all about in an early time. It’s mindful of vintage folk music with no anger, protest, or vitriol. Young ears may not be lassoed by these tunes but many people still like songs with a story & are vintage. Many today still enjoy listening to ragtime (though that’s not part of this performance).
The trio has the grit to add a Hawaiian feel to “Cowboys In Hawaii,” which will recall the singing style of Gene Autrey. So what? It’s got its own level of coolness & Gene was popular for decades. Some will call this a novelty song, or hokey, but listen to the lyric, how the guitar never overpowers the vocalist but helps to accentuate his vocal. This is nostalgic music. It’s indeed Americana reaching out to a place out in the middle of the ocean that is the furthest thing from Americana.
It’s tongue in cheek & brings two diversely different mindsets & geography together. It’s poignant. “Do they need any cowboys in Hawaii?” Find another song that addresses this concern.
This music is for selective tastes, but these songs written & performed by the trio have a vintage pathology. But because it’s played with a generous amount of modern depth some unfamiliar may find it an interesting departure from commercial material.
The tunes were produced at Wow & Flutter Studios in Nashville the old-fashioned way & it sounds like they succeeded. The CD is available @ https://www.harleykimbrolewis.com/