This is the new album from long absent alt. country music artist, formerly known as Harry Hookey. Harry took some time out, went back to the bush (not far from where I live) and escaped for a while. This album will not be for everybody. Harry was always known as being a bit left of centre, controversial and unconventional, but in many people’s eyes, quite brilliant.
This is very much an album of musical experimentation, combining different mediums and effects to produce one of the most interesting albums of the last 10 years. As usual, Harry is not shying away from the big issues, and he is quite open to mixing music styles and throwing all of the 79 types of Country Music and some other genres into a big mixing pot and letting it combine and melt.
The E rating is fair to a point. It is not as explicit as other songs and albums have been, but maybe it is not just because of the minor swear words. Harry is rumoured to have played all of the instruments on this album, produced it and basically did everything on this album. The name change is because a certain company has the ownership of that other name.
Most of the songs have a country flavour, There are some familiar famous voices on here from interviews. Harry uses spoken word, some Gram Parsons/Townes Van Zandt sounding songs, old record crackling, sound effects and some fusion of styles here. Even after a half a dozen plays, I am still soaking up the different messages and sounds. It takes a few plays to get what is going down, but it is fascinating.
Without using the tired old cliche of a rollercoaster of emotions, it has to be said that the ride on this wild train is unique and varied. There is alt. country, mountain music, bluegrass, blues, folk, a fast paced section of one song that is almost like a country rap, No Snake Prelude is like a theme song to a movie, there’s those working class ballads and some almost Leonard Cohen feels.
The time out that Harry had was obviously spent researching, self examining and experimenting. This is no ordinary album. As I said, it will not appeal to everybody, but curiosity value is extreme. There are tracks to just mellow out to, but there are songs to examine, dissect and search the layers as well.
The melodies are the same as the words, complicated and complex at times, easy and relaxing at others, haunting at other times.
I have been criticized lately for my avoidance of some other artists who have taken a different turn in the road, but this is different. This is quality, this is adventurous, and it will probably not receive the publicity and certainly not the accolades of those particular works, but it should….it is far more deserving of attention. I will understand if people are hesitant, but I encourage you to give Harry a listen. You should at least appreciate the work that has gone into this album. It is amazingly intricate. I have a feeling that it will be critically acclaimed, but perhaps not a commercial success. I don’t think that Harry has ever intended to be a popular iconic figure, I think that he has always felt the need to express himself in an honest and original manner.
I have lots of albums, I have listened to lots of music, and I have never heard anything quite like this. Be bold, be daring, give Harry a spin.
Welcome back, Harry. Continue to push the envelope and try new things.
No Snake in the Tree
Some Shit Don’t Burn
Nashville Tennessee (both kinds)
Welcome to the Bigtime!
Hit Machine and B Side
No Snake Prelude
Stoned on a Monday
Rich White Man
You’ll forget me (Ozymandias)
No Snake Redux