JP Harris is coming to the UK for only the second time since starting out in the music business around 10 years ago. Now with a new album to promote, ‘Sometimes Dogs Bark At Nothing,’ Nashville-based Harris and his band, the Tough Choices, are showcasing the record at the AMA-UK press launch on the 7th of November, followed by a number of dates throughout the UK.
The origins of the new album demonstrated a remarkably spontaneous approach to songwriting and the creative process. Working alongside producer and Old Crow Medicine Show band member, Morgan Jahnig, Harris contacted a handful of his favourite players, sent them some acoustic demos of songs planned for the album and then instructed them all to take five days out to think about the songs and write notes of whatever ideas the songs brought to mind. Band members were also instructed not to talk to each other about the process – following which they all got together in the studio to work on the new material. It’s clearly worked as ‘Sometimes Dogs Bark At Nothing,’ is his best yet, and destined for many critics’ year end best of album lists.
A true artisan of the americana genre and modest to a fault, Harris doesn’t fancy himself so much a musician as he does a carpenter who writes country songs. Venturing out on a Greyhound bus after finishing the 8th grade at school, he often travelled the country alone, hitchhiking and hopping freight trains while making his living as a farm labourer, shepherd, woodsman – and more recently as a carpenter.
AUK writers were fortunate enough to catch JP at Mojo Nixon’s ‘Music City Mayhem’ at Robert’s Western World during AmericanaFest in September and also at a festival Harris has promoted himself since 2014 in the backyard of an East Nashville record store – ‘Sunday Morning Coming Down.’ With his mother’s gumbo cooking away in the background, it’s an opportunity for local bands and musicians based in the community to play in a nicely laid back setting after some of the freneticism of the festival. Harris’s generosity of spirit was evident throughout the whole day and it’s a measure of the high esteem in which he’s held that he can attract musical talent of the quality of Erin Rae, the Watson Twins and Elizabeth Cook to his festival.
AUK’s own Rich Evans said in his 9/10 review of the new album: “JP’s Florida Blues #1,’ is a Hammond-driven rocker that blows in like a hurricane, replete with Lowell George-esque slide…The rollicking country-feel of ‘When I Quit Drinking’ has a bittersweet humour – its barroom vibe softened by warm violin. Other standout tracks include the melancholy ‘Lady in the Spotlight,’ with its flat-picked Tex-Mex guitar and the stripped ‘Runaway,’ an ode to wanderlust where Harris states that he “…never had the heart to stay and do right by my wrongs.” In this era of music streaming, the album as an art form has undeniably suffered – its importance has been eroded as focus has shifted to the instant gratification of standalone tracks. It is refreshing, therefore, to encounter a release which constitutes a complete work – an album that ebbs and flows and allows the listener to live and breathe the hard travelling and heartbreak of its songs.”
JP Harris Tour Dates:
NOV 10 SAT – Thomas Fraser Festival, Shetland
NOV 11 SUN – The Blue Lamp, Aberdeen
NOV 12 MON – The Cluny 2, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne
NOV 13 TUE – Holy Smokes, Glasgow
NOV 14 WED – The Mother’s Ruin, Bristol
NOV 15 THU – The Bullingdon, Oxford
NOV 16 FRI – Omeara, London
NOV 17 SAT – Ents Shed, Bedford