Cousin Harley – Let’s Go! | Album Review

Cousin Harley – Let’s Go!

Little Pig Records LPR011

10 songs – 32 minutes

Firing on all cylinders, Cousin Harley are a power-blues trio out of Vancouver, B.C., who bill themselves as hillbilly rockers, but they’re far more than that. They swing steadily from the jump, blending blues, rockabilly, swing and a taste of punk in a pleasing mix that will keep your toes tapping when they’re not on the dance floor.

They’re fronted by vocalist Paul Pigat, a multi-dimensional, world-class guitarist with three critically acclaimed instructional DVDs to a credit. Despite credentials that include work with James Burton, Jeff Beck, Brian Setzer and others, he flies under the radar North of the Border with this group, his own three-piece classical jazz ensemble and work as an acoustic soloist.

Pigat delivers fat, reverb-driven guitar runs throughout this set and has a strong singing voice with limited range. This album shows why he and his rock-steady rhythm section – Jesse Cahill on drums and Keith Picot – have built a devoted, cult-like following wherever they appear. A hard-driving, all-original ten-tune set, this one was recorded at Afterlife Studios and Little Pig Headquarters in Vancouver. Marc L’Esperance, who mastered the CD, provides harmony vocals on two tracks.

“Right Back with the Blues” heats things up from the jump as Pigat describes jumping back on the roller coaster of life with a troublesome lady who’s “like a no-good dog with a back to scratch/Been gone two years and now you’re back/With nothin’ in your pockets but two bucks and a bottle of booze.” His mid-tune solo stings like the pain that comes with acceptance.

The theme continues with the blazing “Let’s Go!” which shifts gears aurally thanks to a lower-register guitar hook atop a pounding bottom. This time, the lady’s even more of a pain: a motorhead with a monkey on her back who’s addicted to racing, but possesses exactly what the singer needs.

The mood changes and the band gets funky with the Latin-tinged “El Swartho’s Big Adventure,” a stop-time pleasing instrumental, before the message reverts to the opener in “Rained Like Hell.” In this one, lightning strikes the town and the skies open on a cloudless night for no apparent reason the moment the person arrives. Pigat’s fretwork here dazzles.

A Pink Panther-like bass line opens “She’s My Baby,” another number with a Latin beat that professes eternal love despite the fact that the lady’s just been sentenced to five years in the can. The light and airy instrumental, “Dancing for Bobo,” comes across with a sweet, retro feel before “Where’d She Go” comes complete with an amped-up country two-step feel.

“Who’s That Lyin’” poses the question atop an arrangement that sounds much like The Ventures high on methamphetamines before things calm down dramatically for the tasty “Gone, Gone, Gone” before Pigat flies over the strings for the instrumental “Merle the Gypsy” – delivered with a regimental beat – to close the set.

Definitely not for the faint of heart, Let’s Go! is in high gear throughout as Cousin Harley stays firmly on the edge of the blues. Available through iTunes, CDBaby and multiple download services, and recommended for anyone with grease in their gears!

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