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Martin Harley Martin Harley
Album: Roll With The Punches
Label: Del Mundo
Tracks: 10
Website: http://www.martinharley.com

British guitarist and songwriter Martin Harley's latest album is a bit of departure after his last two acoustic albums recorded in Nashville.

The sound is electric and packed with smooth slide guitar and gorgeous backing vocals.

The album was recorded in analogue in a remote Welsh chapel and delivers a gritty and exciting sound.

The opening title track gets the album to a cracking start. It's lyrics tip the wink to older blues songs but that's no matter, blues musicians have been doing this for quite a while.

The slide guitar is pushed high in the mix and that's just fine, the vocals are strong and confident, and when the backing vocals come in on the chorus, it lifts the song right up.

Co-producer and drummer Harry Harding and award-winning Australian bassist Rex Horan do a fine job in creating the new sound.

The slower Marguerite has a lovely groove and some lovely slide guitar. Hotel Lonely is altogether down and dirty and has a country rockabilly style.

The soulful side to Martin is covered in Brother, with its charming lilt.

If Tears were Pennies starts off as a stripped back song before it explodes into action, with great drums throughout. I'd Rather Be Lucky Than Rich features some sparking guitar.

One of the most haunting tracks is Clarbeston Renovation - just solo slide guitar recorded inside an atmospheric space. Chillingly good.

The country-influenced Shanghai features some great tinkling keyboards. Putting Down Roots is a lively acoustic number that glides along very nicely with some lovely guitar. The gospel-tinged final track The Time is Now is a toe-tapping high-octane dance number that's bound to be a feature of Martin's live sets. Excellent.

The only negative to be found here is that there's only ten top quality tracks to enjoy. Perhaps I'm greedy but when the music is this good I always want more. Recommended.

John Knighton