Harrison Country - 'Climate Change'
When I think of family music groups, The Carter Family, The Carpenters, The Beach Boys, and the Jackson 5 are just a few who come to mind. There is a certain chemistry and cohesiveness that occurs when family members play music together. There is also a feeling of awe when so much talent shares a bloodline. Americana group, Harrison Country is a family group to keep your eye on. Don and Karen Harrison and their daughters Amy Harrison and Jennie Harrison Young and Lexi White have released their newest album 'Climate Change' which explores the many sides of Americana. They are backed by Maryland legend Bryan Ewald (guitars, bass, mandolin, keyboards), Josh Chapman (bass), Brandon Bartlett (drums), Brad Kimes (drums), Larry Byrne (keyboards, bass, sax) and Aidan Ewald (drums). The arrangements for the album were done by Bryan, Don and Lexi.
Off the 12-track album, “Men in the House” is the first song to kick things off. It’s an upbeat, hip-swaying, looking-for-a-good-man anthem that all country-music-loving women will love. With hints of Shania Twain, the lead vocals are wonderfully sassy and fun. It’s a song about a group of sisters scouting the town. They find themselves quite disappointed at the “slim pickings.” Each verse is loaded with good humor about men who fall short of their expectations. “Ain’t there a man in the house?” Lead blues guitar solos add a fantastic element giving it a rocking country blues and country pop feel. This song sounds a lot like a Country top 40 chart buster to me.
The second track is “When the Geese Fly.” This ballad is an Americana gem with fine organic and acoustic instrumentation. The lead male vocalist delivers a heartfelt performance as he recounts a delicate conversation between a dying father and his son. A song about parental redemption, “When the Geese Fly” soars over the lake of redemption like an evening loon with grace and tenderness. Nice mandolin playing and soft guitar strumming give this song a gentle feel.
Track 5, Shadow Games, is a rocking folk song that combines elements of southern rock, blues and Americana. The hook to this song got stuck in my head for days with a strong melody. “How did it feel when ruin was near and real? What would he say if he were here today to see the shadow games his growed-up children play?” This is a tale about ghosts from the past. At the center is a family and their farm. The farm, once owned by an earlier generation is now struggling to survive. Perhaps there are some political overtones in there as well - it is up to the listener to decide. “Shadow Games” is both haunting and mysterious, demanding more than one listen to take in the gripping story and music.
“Laugh Again” (Track 6) is a charming song about girl meets boy. He’s a poor, failing school boy, “a fool with no money” and she’s a homecoming queen with great grades, but hey - he makes her laugh. Sung with a crystal clear vocal tone, “Laugh Again” is full of surprises. They fall in love and get married against her father’s wishes. She marries him anyway and they live happily ever after. Not quite. There’s a twist. The song takes a melancholy turn that gives it depth. As it turns out, she is looking for that foolish boy to come back and make her laugh again. The deeper soul of the song is about losing your smile as life’s hardships - working long hours and trying to meet other’s expectations - takes your smile away.
Track 8, “Chicken Fighting Girls” is about a family guy who loves his girls. The lead vocals start with “Lord, Oh Lord, take me back to that chicken fighting world.” He’s reminiscing about days of innocence. He’s in a woman’s world where his wife and teenage girls are starting to realize that their hero is just a man. “Take me back to when they road on my shoulders, Take me back to when they never grow older Take me back to that chicken fighting world when I got nothing but love from those chicken fighting girls." With great picking on the mandolin and catchy melodic lines, this song captures a universal feeling that all parents will relate to for a song that has mass appeal. The ending is really cute when some young girls sing “Lord oh Lord, those chicken fighting girls.” Musically, this family group exceeded my expectations. Harrison Country is more than connected and cohesive - they are musically diverse. Each member of the family brings a truly unique gift to the table. This album is like a family musical house except every single room is decorated uniquely. As your ears open each door, you will find blues-rock, country, folk and Americana; you will find love songs and foot-stomping bluegrass barn-dance songs; you will laugh and you will cry. One thing is clear - when a family comes together with a common purpose and the talent to back it up, great things can happen. This is one great album by one great family.