Del Mundo Records
CD: 11 Songs, 44:35 Minutes
Styles: Contemporary Electric and Acoustic Blues, Mellow Ballads, All Original Songs
Recently on the Internet, I read a comment that said something like, “This computer game caters to a nitch market.” Note to commenter: It’s spelled “niche” and pronounced “neesh.” Sheesh! The UK’s Martin Harley, along with East Tennessee’s Daniel Kimbro, have released an album that definitely caters to a “nitch market.” Static in the Wires is a cross between Eric Clapton’s Unplugged and any given Leon Russell album. Even though it contains excellent electric guitar work, it’s the acoustic side of this instrument that really shines here. As for this band’s blues, it’s strictly coffeehouse, not roadhouse. These two don’t need to rip-snort their way through this CD’s eleven original songs. Some of them might be a bit too trance-inducing if you’re in a party mood (witness the last track, “Mean Old City”), but for long summer nights on the porch or patio, Static in the Wires will come in crystal-clear.
Martin Harley’s Facebook page reveals his acclaimed background: “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, [and] Delta Rae and opened for Iron and Wine, Bruce Hornsby, Five for Fighting, World Party, Beth Hart, [and] Joe Bonamassa amongst many others.”
As for Daniel Kimbro? He explains how he got his start in music, even though he “really hates bios.” “My Dad found a nice Japanese-made Fender Precision Bass in a Knoxville pawn shop. Mom had taught me the recorder and I’d played the trombone since 5th grade, so I figured out where all the E pitches were on the neck and then set about teaching myself to read bass charts and walking bass lines. I stuck with the guitar though, playing with our family bluegrass band called ‘Mountain Soul.’ Dad drove us all over East Tennessee, playing only the finest backwoods shacks, swap meets, cake walks, Civil War reenactments, volunteer firehalls, and tanning bed salons.” In the “name-dropping” section of the page, he lists Mary Chapin Carpenter, Alison Krauss, and Roseanne Cash as some of his famous on-stage collaborators.
Along with Harley (vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, Weissenborn, and lap steel) and Kimbro (double bass, vocals, piano, acoustic guitars) are Derek Mixon on drums and percussion, Jerry Douglas on dobro, and Micah Hulscher on piano.
The following three songs are the best of this duo’s blues, sounding the most traditional.
Track 01: “One Horse Town” – It’s tough to live in a town where you “get no love at the pony club” and that “mare won’t pull [your] plow.” This trope may be familiar, but the tongue-in-cheek vocals give it fresh life. Micah Hulscher plays sly ragtime piano.
Track 02: “Feet Don’t Fail Me” – Terrific track two is a plea for anyone who’s ever been in a heap of trouble, even if it’s mental or existential. “Oh, feet, don’t fail me now. I’ve got to get where I’m going somehow. I’ve got a world of worry on my mind. Got to leave it all behind. Oh, feet, don’t fail me now.” Who in this world has never had the traveling blues, or the longing to escape present hardships by escaping one’s current set of scenery? Jerry Douglas, dobro sensei, knows all about them. His contribution is, by far, the best part of this song.
Track 08: “Trouble” – “Like a river on the rise, I’ve got trouble on both sides of me, oh, me, oh, my.” What an image to kick off number eight, to which everyone can relate. Dig those keys!
There’s no Static in the Wires for Harley and Kimbrough’s superb musicianship!