Harrison Whitford “Afraid Of Everything” (Screwdriver Records, 2019)

The opening track of singer-songwriter Harrison Whitford’s latest album starts off with some gentle strumming and tender, vulnerable vocal work. So far so average. Then the drums kick in, along with backing vocals, the fuzzy electric, and it all comes together. ‘Take a Walk‘, the opening track, sets the bar high. It lifts itself above the standard singer-songwriter dirge with some excellent production, instrumentation, and a chorus that sticks in your head.

The high standard set by this great opening isn’t kept up all the way through the record, unfortunately. There is a mix of more downbeat, emotional tracks, which are still decent songs, but they don’t off the best of what Whitford can do. He’s at his best when he’s going for it, rocking out a bit, and he does hit this stride more than once across the thirty-minute record. As well as ‘Take a Walk‘, ‘Welcome to My Life‘ and ‘Pair of Lungs‘ really stand out.

Welcome to My Life‘ feels like Harrison at his best. It’s perfect shiny Americana. Catchy tune, great chorus, and some sweet guitar fills. ‘Pair of Lungs‘ stands out because it achieves the same structural highs and lows, the same building excitement, but with stripped-down production – just Whitford singing and playing a fuzzy electric guitar. It’s the tender stripped-down track done right, which is done less effectively on other parts of the record.

There’s a lot to like about ‘Afraid of Everything‘. Harrison clearly has an ear for a tune and is a good songwriter. The production is excellent too. It’s just a shame there isn’t more of the really good beefy, road-movie-Americana, and just a couple too many intimate stripped-down numbers which can come across as a little self-indulgent. There’s talent here for sure, though, and it’s certainly a record that’s worth a listen.

Three or four numbers really hit home and lift this above the average. A strong record.

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