Sometimes Dogs Bark At Nothing
I’ve been a JP Harris fan for some time now. I was lucky to spin a handful tunes at a gig he played in Brighton a few of years back. I picked up his two albums and soon started playing Gear Jammin Daddy (form the JP Harris and the Tough Choices album I’ll Keep Calling, 2012) in our Whiskey Preachin DJ sets. When, soon after that gig, we started the Whiskey Preachin Radio Show, Gear Jammin Daddy took pole position as the opening tune on the first show.
Released on Maryland’s Free Dirt records (who also brought us top notch albums form Western Centuries, The Hackensaw Boys and Porky LaFarge, among others), Sometimes Dogs Bark at Nothing was always going to be of interest to the WP ears, naturally. It was only a matter of seconds after the first track started that I knew it was going to have to open one of our shows (it’s the first track on the September 2018 Pt.2 show, there’s a link at the bottom of the page).
JP’s Florida Blues #1 opens the album, riding an organ groove and insistent drums, with backing singers reminiscent of an Elvis comeback show and lyrics that should draw attention form FHP. JPH spins a tale of losing his mind out on the highway, when it’s 85 degrees and snowing. This one is guaranteed to be heard in WP sets for years to come. In fact, there are several track from this fine album that are sure to be getting plenty of WP attention, including Hard Road and Jimmy’s Dead and Gone (both up-tempo numbers suited to our favourite Friday night whiskey joint) as well as Runaway (a dobro-drenched head-nodder) and When I Quit Drinking (a lovely slice of mid-tempo honky tonk).The dobro forms the backbone of the title track as well, allowing Harris to show of his singer-songwriter credentials, while I Only Drink Alone drops the lights and the tempo for a gently swinging honky tonk lament.
Now based in Music City, Harris is originally from Montgomery, Alabama, one of the few cities in AL I am lucky to have visited, where Hank Williams is buried and where, 28 years before Harris was born, Rosa Parks refused to sit at the back of the bus. In his decade-long career as a country singer (outside of his day job as a sought-after carpenter), Harris has released three fine albums and the Why Don’t We Duet In The Road EP (which features Nikki Lane, Kristina Murray (whose recent album Southern Ambrosia has been playing on the WP show), Kelsey Waldon and Leigh Nash. Harris’s performance at the 2018 Americanfest in Nashville was well received by the critics, as was his choice to work with a slew of talented female country artist, when female artists seem to have been overlooked somewhat in the awards themselves. At the Sunday Morning Coming Down party that he hosted at the end of the festival (which I would love to have been able to attend), Harris shared the stage with Elizabeth Cook, The Watson Twins, Erin Rae and Kristina Murray. Fair play, although I find it odd that this should be the exception. Why wouldn’t a talented male artist want to share the stage with a bunch of talented female artists? He got to hang out with female artists he clearly respects and made himself look good into the bargain. Surely that’s a win-win?
Sometimes Dogs Bark at Nothing should certainly see JP Harris reaching a broader audience. This album provides the latest example of just how good today’s country music can be. First rate stuff, all we need now is some UK tour dates, please, hopefully at a slightly bigger venue.