With the release of “Bright as You,” his second solo effort, Jason Harrod has clearly come into his own as a songwriter and as a musician. The album is a sweeping landscape of shadows and light, with richly textured melodies capturing moments of sorrow and exuberance. On “Messed Up Everywhere Blues,” which isn’t a blues song at all, Harrod in his raspy tenor one-ups just about every other song of lost love when he sings:
When you were a girl I loved your smooth, smooth skin
And I praised the author of your eyes
But you don’t love me now, just like you didn’t love me then
And I want to kiss your worry lines
Unlike other folksy singer-songwriter types, though, Harrod is not one to get mired in the depths of woe to the point of self-indulgence. In “Good Night Sunshine” he breaks the spell of despondency: “I’m a messed up man, but I’m full of love.” In “Kickin Mule,” he leaps to the height of bravado, rocking it out with Southern-fried goodness :
I’ll be the go-to man
on the final play
‘cross the U.S.A.
I’ll be cruel and unusual
for a limited time
Better watch your back
better watch your mind
‘Cause I’m a kickin mule
Other songs on the album range from the jazz-inflected (“Voyeurs”) to the Beatlesque (“Bright as You”), but they all retain Harrod’s signature phrasing, deft guitar work, and poetic lyrics. Producer Phil Madeira and a raft of studio musicians round out the sound with some top-notch session work.
In the interest of full disclosure and all that, I suppose I should mention that Jason is a friend of mine. So, I might be a little biased.
Jason Harrod’s new album is fantastic. But don’t take my word for it. Jason has given me permission to offer the full version of two songs. Download them here, have a listen, and then let me know what you think.