Jeff Larson – It’ll Never Happen Again – A Tim Hardin Tribute
San Francisco singer-songwriter Jeff Larson (lead vocals/acoustic guitar) teamed with producer Gerry Beckley (America) to create this 6-song, 14-minute EP. It provides some revitalized versions of covers of some of the late Tim Hardin’s best songs.
Beckley (piano/electric guitars/organ/accordion/strings/bass/drums) joins Jeff where they recorded in studios in California & Australia to make It’ll Never Happen Again – A Tim Hardin Tribute (Dropped March 17–Melody Place LLC) happen. Hardin only had one hit in his career — a song he didn’t write – “Simple Song of Freedom,” which was written by Bobby Darin.
Darin was originally the quintessential artist who covered Hardin songs (the original “If I Were a Carpenter,” & “Reason To Believe” in 1966). Darin also included “Misty Roses,” on his Atlantic Records folk album.
Nonetheless, Tim Hardin’s (d. 1980) songs were later covered by Keith Emerson & The Nice, The Four Tops, Johnny Cash, Gary Puckett & the Union Gap, Scott Walker, Joan Baez, Johnny Rivers, The Carpenters & Rod Stewart. Hardin had a wonderful gift of melody with poetic lyrics.
With this brief collection, Jeff Larson brings these classic songs back to our attention. Hardin was somewhat like the late Tim Buckley. They both wrote songs that skated between folk, country & jazz. Diversification is a wonderful thing but that usually alienates an audience.
Jeff Larson helps to keep the Hardin catalog in focus. When an artist decides to pay tribute to another great artist it’s hard to write a comprehensive review on the new performance without falling back on the original writer & his songs, what influenced them & why?
But Jeff Larson is a capable artist who interprets with class. While he doesn’t have the warmth of Bobby Darin in his voice Larson does have an abundance of sincerity & good tone throughout. “Reason To Believe is rendered remarkably well.
Darin endorsed Hardin’s music strongly & the 2 men traded songs. Some tunes Darin wrote earlier sound like songs Tim could’ve done (“Amy,” “Things,” “Funny What Love Can Do,” “Jailer Bring Me Water,” “The Girl That Stood Beside Me” & “Rainin’”).
Jeff Larson covers Hardin songs successfully since Tim’s catalog remains a compelling songbook. The 2 songs not on this EP that I’d like to hear Jeff cover are “The Lady Came From Baltimore,” & “Red Balloon.” But meanwhile, Jeff has provided a fascinating document & judging from a few (“Don’t Make Promises”) he really excels with these songs.
Highlights – “Reason To Believe,” “Don’t Make Promises” “Misty Roses” & “How Can We Hang On To a Dream.”
Musicians – Joachim Cooder (electric mbira/drums/percussion), Matt Combs (mandola/fiddle), Jonathan Zwartz (bass), Rick Braun (trumpet), Brian Eichenberger (backing vocals), Nathaniel Murphy (nylon string guitar), Jim Hoke (flute), Austin Hoke (cello) & Kristin Weber (violin).
Color portrait image courtesy Patrick Fore. CD @ Amazon & https://www.jefflarson-music.com/