Martin Harley plays guitar. All sorts of guitar: acoustic, lap slide, Weissenborn, you name it. He also plays harmonica and stylophone but a man’s got to have a hobby, right? Mojo Fix is his fifth album, three of them released as The Martin Harley Band.
It’s also something of a departure. Martin has moved from the Surrey delta to Texas to write and record with producer Bob Parr, his wife Claire and a distinguished cast of musicians. His style of Americana ranges from the blues’n’boogie of the title track to a gentle ballad like ‘Treading Water’. In fact the album switches moods at a bewildering rate. It opens with the title track and distorted vocals reminiscent of Tom Waits’ megaphone style with just drums and bass in support, a style repeated in the closing ‘Mean Old City’. ‘Cardboard King’ is one the record’s production numbers with a string quartet and a decidedly Slambovian feel. ‘Wrecking Ball’ is another rocker with violin and brass and ‘Rum Shack’ has the feel of a thirties’ tune brought into the 21st century and roughed up a bit.
Mojo Fix is an album that I enjoy more and more each time I listen to it. It feels like a square peg in the round hole of the music business and that’s great. Martin is touring extensively in the UK in March and that has to be a good night out.
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