Review Summary: A true find among the pile of 'standard' country music releases.
If somebody tells you that JP Harris plays country music, it may cause two reactions - scorn, because the first thing that comes to mind is the most commercial-intended stuff that comes out of Nashville and a name like Garth Brooks, or it may peek your interest because you remember that The Band, Townes Van Zandt or Steve Earle would also fall in the genre.
Essentially, like with any music, there’s a good country and bad country, and JP Harris and his latest album Sometimes Dogs Bark At Nothing, produced by Morgan Jahnig of the Old Crow Medicine Show surely fall into the good batch.
Harris, who many dubbed Hunter S. Thompson of country due to his tendency to cram his songs with scenes of excess with his tongue constantly stuck in his cheek, covers the whole gamut of country sounds and details - from the hard rocking, Lynyrd Skynyrd star of the opener “JP’s Florida Blues #1”, to Townes Van Zandt loneliness style of “Lady In The Spotlight”, the ‘standard’ country (if there’s such a thing) of “When I Quit Drinking”, to Wille Nelson balladry of “Long Ways Back” and the country blues variations of the title track.
And he keeps on going up until the sourness of the closer “Jimmy’s Dead And Gone”. Throughout Harris doesn’t miss a step and stays away from any of the sugary commercialism of that can turn most of the current Nashville production into cotton candy - sounding large and fancy but when you bite into it shrivels into a small drop of sugar.
What keeps JP Harris and songs like “Hard Road” turning into country pap is exactly that Hunter S. Thompson qualification in Harris’ lyrics that have a sense of humor that often gets close to that of the country-joker-turned-novelist Kinky Friedman.
Still, for anybody that has a general aversion towards country music JP Harris will not do much either way, but true connoisseurs will certainly rejoice. They will certainly have a problem of getting this one off their sound system.