Awake: The New Edition
Red House Records
A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
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.