Martin Harley and Daniel Kimbro – new album

Martin Harley and Daniel Kimbro

A supremely talented acoustic roots and blues guitarist, singer and songwriter with a burgeoning global reputation Martin Harley’s recently released and widely acclaimed new album Live at Southern Ground was recorded in Nashville in collaboration with Daniel Kimbro (Jerry Douglas, Larkin Poe) on upright bass.

As Martin explains “Daniel and I met in Knoxville through a mutual friend… he handed me his card which read… ‘alright guitar player… good upright bass player’ … an understatement on both parts!”

“It’s a simple, honest and direct album with no overdubs in a warm sounding room with some great microphones and two new friends playing a few songs over a cold beer or two” says Martin. “There’s a great feeling when you click with someone. It frees you up to experiment with the arrangement and the dynamic of a song.”

A mixture of retrospective solo and duo arrangements recorded during an afternoon at the esteemed Southern Ground studio in Nashville, Live at Southern Ground features Martin on Weissenborn… a traditional Hawaiian acoustic guitar played across the lap, resonators and archtops, and of course Daniel Kimbro on upright bass, and in March 2016 they’ll be performing together in the UK for the first time.

Along with many years of international touring and countless festivals Martin has built a strong international fan-base across the globe. Renowned for his prowess as a slide guitarist, Martin is almost unique in the UK in his playing lap slide. During year-round worldwide touring he’s absorbed a plethora of diverse influences, honing his craft into the classic songwriting style he possesses today.

In the US, Martin has headlined Music City Roots in Nashville and toured coast to coast with ZZ Ward, Delta Rae and opened for Iron and Wine, Bruce Hornsby, Five for Fighting, World Party, Beth Hart, Joe Bonamassa amongst many others.

Live At Southern Ground follows on from Martin’s five previously acclaimed albums, most recently Mojo Fix in 2012.

“For all lovers of acoustic blues and top class roots music . . . this is for you!” Blues In The North West

“From the first note to the last, this is a gorgeous album, played beautifully and with some real respect between the players.” Music-news.com (5 stars)

“Quite simply a great live act” Time Out London

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‘Love In The Afternoon’:

MARTIN HARLEY AND DANIEL KIMBRO – Live at Southern Ground (Del Mundo)

MARTIN HARLEY AND DANIEL KIMBRO Live at Southern GroundA celebrated guitar virtuoso, acclaimed for his work on Weissenborn and slide, Welsh-born Harley met upright bassist Kimbro in Nashville and the pair heading off to Southern Ground Studios to lay down an album that would, in the former’s words, represent “where I’m at musically at the moment.” As such, as the title suggests, working with Weissenborn, resonator guitars and bass, the pair recorded a selection of tracks in a live setting, the material ranging across a variety of numbers from Harley’s career, given new textures and arrangements.

It kicks off with ‘Cardboard King’, Harley’s vocals bringing a country edge to the descending chords of the bluesy resonator picking before slipping into the choppy mid-tempo shuffle of ‘Winter Coat’. There’s three covers that underscore Harley’s blues roots, first up being a world-weary Weissenborn-accompanied reading of the Lead Belly chestnut ‘Goodnight Irene’, the second staying with the old guard for a frisky skip through Blind Willie Johnson’s ‘Nobody’s Fault But Mine’ that introduces a dash of bluegrass, The third comes form a more contemporary blues man in the shape of a slide-driven, choppy rhythm take on Tom Waits’ ‘Chocolate Jesus’.

I say three covers, but if you leave the disc running for about three minutes after the tenth track, then you’ll discover what seems to be a variation of the stark traditional ‘Hello Blues’ featuring some spooky bass bowing from Kimbro and menacing slide as Harley slurs through the lyrics like a man with the weight of the world bearing down on his shoulders.

The other five numbers are all from Harley, ranging from the Mississippi style slide guitar blues ‘Can’t Help Moving’ and the resonator led blues swing ‘Money Don’t Matter’ to the cascading notes of the country-inflected ‘Automatic Life’, a nimbly fingerpicked, almost ragtime jellyroll ‘Honey Bee’ and the playful jazzily up-tempo ‘Love In The Afternoon’ (first featured, as were three other of the numbers here, on 2010’s Drumrolls for Somersaults and sounding much the same but without the drums) with Kimbro slapping bass and providing harmonies while Harley shows what Stephane Grapelli might sound like if he played guitar rather than fiddle. The pairing clearly works well, so here’s hoping this isn’t just a one off and next time round they might work together to produce some new material as well.

Mike Davies

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