J.P. HARRIS – Sometimes Dogs Bark At Nothing (Free Dirt DIRT-CD-0090)

Sometimes Dogs Bark At NothingYou might be wondering if J.P. Harris looks anything like the cover picture. Well, I can’t speak for all the tattoos but, yes, that’s pretty much him! J.P. is from Alabama and his lifestyle follows that of Cisco Houston, travelling for work and describing himself as “a carpenter who writes country songs”. After a four year break, Sometimes Dogs Bark At Nothing is his third album and is produced by Old Crow Medicine Show’s Morgan Jahnig while featuring guitarist and fiddle-player Chance McCoy.

There are many styles of country music and Harris embraces several. The opening track, ‘JP’s Florida Blues #1’, is a tough country blues rocker that forced me to reach for the volume control as I wondered if this was really our thing. Fortunately, it is. The second track, ‘Lady In The Spotlight’, is reminiscent of John Hartford and it’s not until the final song, ‘Jimmy’s Dead And Gone’, taken at express speed does he really rock out again.

The title track is an amusing slice of philosophy beginning with the question “Why does a deer get froze by headlight?” and continues in similar vein leading Harris to conclude that “sometimes dogs bark at nothing”. In and around these songs the titles suggest rough living and hard times: ‘When I Quit Drinking’, ‘Hard Road’, ‘I Only Drink Alone’ and ‘Runaway’ but there’s that typical fatalism that colours so much country music running all the way through them making you think that things aren’t so bad after all.

As I’ve already suggested J.P. has a fine band behind him. McCoy is one three guitarists alongside Leroy Powell, who provides all the pedal steel leads, and Mark Sloan who doubles on keyboards. Kelley Wenrich plays bass and keys and Eric Pollard drums with The Watson Twins on backing vocals. I started with a twinge of doubt in my mind but by halfway through the second play I was convinced.

Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website: https://www.ilovehonkytonk.com

‘When I Quit Drinking’ – official video: