John Wesley Harding - Awake: The New Edition

Awake: The New Edition

John Wesley Harding

APR 1040

Red House Records
P.O. Box 4044
St. Paul MN 55104

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by James Foglio

John Wesley Harding's latest is one of the more enigmatic albums of recent years. The compilation consists of some truly catchy melodies, ones that will echo in the listener's head for hours upon hearing them. A few of his tunes subtly incorporate chord influences from folksy musicians, most notably Jim Croce's Alabama Rain, but the collection suggests an overall pop feel. Its most eccentric element, however, is Harding's use of background sounds that are at times borderline psychotic (and therefore entertaining), yet often function as nothing more than pointless dissonance.

Harding's lyrical content, while some might say has a peculiarity that is an indirect result of his having been a product of a Dylan/Baez affair, or so he claims, is at times brilliant, but ultimately disappoints because of a lack of consistency. It takes some time for Harding to get serious, and by then the listener might have a penchant to lose interest.

Behind Harding's masquerade of elementary language (ie, "I'm sorry I wrote this song" is a vexatious phrase that is recycled in several of the album's songs, just stated differently) is a true message from a talented artist. But even Burn, one of the more serious tracks, is obscured with a Positively 4th Street-type disguise, a derogatory song coated with a gay melody. For some reason, Harding feels the need to throw up this incognito.

Track List:

  • Good Morning (I Just Woke Up)
  • Your Ghost (Don't Scare Me No More)
  • Window Seat
  • Burn
  • It's All My Fault
  • Sweat Tears Blood And Come
  • Poor Heart
  • Miss Fortune
  • Song I Wrote Myself in the Future
  • Something to Write Home About
  • You're Looking at Me
  • You So & So
  • I'm Staying Here (And I'm Not Buying a Gun)
  • Good Gye (Late O'Clock)
  • Wooden Overcoat
  • Jackson Cage
  • Punch n' Judy
  • I Just Woke Up
  • Wreck on the Highway (duet with Bruce Springsteen)

Edited by Virginia Wagner

Copyright 2001, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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