It took me an embarrassingly long time to make the connections between punk and country music. Not so much in musical styles – in attitude. Once it sunk in (about 18 months after the last Johnny Cash show in my neck of the woods at the time), I was hooked. You couldn’t find enough Cash, Gram Parsons, or Mike Nesmith records for me (yep, that Mike Nesmith). I’m not a fan of most Nashville, radio friendly country music. But give me some outlaw country, and I”m all over that. Punk spirit and tunes that cut straight to the heart. Harley Graves fits into this mold perfectly.
The self titled album features Harley Graves on vocals, guitars, and assorted instruments, Tim Kechely on guitars & bass, and Eric Medley on keys & assorted instruments. Together, they’ve created a compelling full length album. Who is Harley Graves, you may ask? A prolific artist from Lincoln, NE who has had his music featured on radio and TV. He’s been making albums for over 40 years.
The album opens with Crazy Eyes – which arguably is the strongest cut on the record. A bold move, but it pays off. The song builds from an acoustic lament to a power ballad of sorts. The chorus positively begs for a sing a long. Aberdeen caught my eye because of the title at first – since I’ve driven through Aberdeen, WA more times than I can count (the birthplace of Kurt Cobain). Fortunately, the song is every bit as strong as I had hoped. Nick Cave vibes by way of an Irish wake, this is another strong tune. South Coddington Road was the song that introduced me to Harley Graves and is a great choice for the single. A song that seamlessly navigates punk spirit with Americana inspired country vibes. A Man Named Harleygraves is a theme song of sorts, I guess. It brought a smile to my face. It most reminded me of the out there anthems by Lee Hazlewood in the 60’s (if you don’t think you know Lee Hazlewood, I assure you – you do because of his Nancy Sinatra connection). Deep baritone vocals, storytelling, melancholy & joy – perfection. Athens Bound revels in it’s Southern charm and has an infectious melody. Where The Truth May Lie is a low key jam to close out the album – a strong song that feels lived in.
Verdict: punk spirit, country & folk vibes
For Fans of: Uncle Tupelo, Wilco, Johnny Cash, Lee Hazlewood, Billy Bragg
- Crazy Eyes
- Blue Heron
- South Coddington Road
- A Man Named Harley Graves
- Arthurs Point
- This Go Round
- Not What You Alluded To
- Robbers Cave
- Athens Bound
- Where the Truth May Lie