Jason Hawk Harris, Thin Places
“She died on Good Friday just like the Lord, but she didn’t rise up like a King on this bright Easter morning.”
Those are the first lines of “Bring Out the Lillies,” the second track on Jason Hawk Harris’ second LP, Thin Places, a modern concept album that cuts to the core of grief and the struggle to hold onto one’s personal faith. Harris sings of tragedy and a struggle to cope, but the album remains hopeful, and bright, thanks to remarkably beautiful arrangements by Andy Freeman of Nashville, who produced, engineered and mastered the album.
“Bring Out the Lillies” combines the sounds of Jimmy Buffet and Jackson Browne. It has a surprising calypso vibe involved, with some subtle classical infusion, making it a truly original composition.
“Shine a Little Light” is another favorite. It captures how distracted we all are, but especially how distracted Harris is after his mother’s passing, and how he can’t really function. He just wants to feel something, anything to get his loss off his mind. It gets dark while keeping a gospel feel, which is appropriate and real. He’s asking for help, which in many ways makes the song more like a prayer, one that’s raw and real. “Shine” also appears to have the most Jackson Browne influence, which is refreshing and makes it much more upbeat than you’d imagine based on the content. And why not? It adds to the catharsis when the songs have a joyful feel. It makes it more possible for the song to be a pathway out of the darkness. That’s when music can be its best.
“Roll” is very honest and relatable. “I can’t get out of my head to save my life. I keep my phone locked up so I don’t look. I need a little less screen and a little more book but can’t pay attention long enough to read.” Preach, Jason! He’s trying to set himself free and realizes the best way to do that is to allow himself to process, allow himself to feel the hurt, and allow himself to accept the reality that his mother isn’t coming back, that the hardships won’t go away unless he works on them, one by one. The chorus is motivation: “Let it roll…so I can rest a little while.”
Much of this album articulates the anger side of grief, and it does so in ways that are impossible not to feel. If you’ve lost someone close – especially a parent – you know exactly what Harris is talking about. His struggle couldn’t be more honest and haunting. “The Abyss” is particularly a gut punch, and it plays with praise music arrangements, and “This Little Light of Mine,” articulating instead how his little light isn’t shining, and how that’s OK. We can’t get that light to shine on command. Harris is hurting, and he welcomes the pain, he embraces the suffering, and he does so in song, with breathtaking pedal steel complimenting the emotions and the melody perfectly. It’s heartbreaking, yes, but it remains hopeful, building to an amazing end: “she’s smiling, and the abyss filled up with light.”
“Gettin’ By” is a playful mantra for today. Losing his mother was clearly too much to take, and this album is a release for Harris. It’s a sweet song, but also about how hard it can be just to get from day to day: “I may lose it now and then but that’s alright…I’m gettin’ by.”
Thin Places is a rare combination of raw emotions with a polished delivery – beautiful melancholy. It’s set to release on Oct. 6 via Bloodshot Records.
Highlights: “Bring Out the Lillies,” “Shine a Little Light,” “Keep Me.”
For more information – or to buy the album – go to https://jasonhawkharris.com
Enjoy our previous coverage here: Show Review: Jason Hawk Harris was Scarred and Stellar at Tulsa’s Mercury Lounge
Musicians on the album are Jason Hawk Harris on vocals, guitars, and harmonium; Phil Glenn on strings and piano; Kevin Brown on drums and percussion; Andy Freeman on bass and percussion; Adam “Ditch” Kurtz on pedal steel; Leeann Skoda, Natalie Nicoles, and
Kristina Murray on backing vocals; and Nick Beaudoing on cajun accordion.