Will Harrison
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Will Harrison


Band Americana Acoustic


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"Jefito Blog"

“Send my love to Carolina / ‘Cause in my mind, that’s where I’ll be,” sings Will Harrison on this album’s “The Borderline,” but don’t go thinking Harrison sounds like James Taylor. Matter of fact, you might as well disregard the Ryan Adams comparisons at his CD Baby page, too — where Taylor couches his harrowing tales in soothing surroundings, and where Adams lurches, arrogantly and without focus, across the musical landscape, Harrison is content to spin cold tales of torment from a sagging porch on a backwoods Arkansas road.

Strangely enough, Harrison appears to hail from the mall-gilded streets of Walnut Creek, California, but whether he came by his sound through experience or imitation isn’t really the point. The point, since you asked so nicely, is that — particularly for roots-music afficionados — A Place Called Home is a jewel. A cracked, filthy, yellowing jewel, but a jewel nonetheless. What the songs lack in deep, immediate resonance (and we’ll get to that in a minute), they make up in sheer vibe: Harrison’s fluid vocals lead the charge, alternating between ghostly croon and bloodshot howl, and they’re surrounded by a sepia-toned assortment of banjos, mandolins, violins, guitars, and other appropriately rustic paraphenalia. Harrison produced (and mixed most of) the album himself, and if the whole solo-artist thing doesn’t work out, he can use this album as a ticket to a career behind the board.

It has its shortcomings. It isn’t a cheerful album, which is fine, but all the loneliness and regret starts to feel a little heavy after awhile, and this is aggravated by Harrison’s tendency to slide into a barbed-wire growl in his lower register. It’s certainly effective, but in places, the record sags into dirge territory; for a twelve-song album, A Place Called Home feels curiously long. It’s a relatively minor complaint, but the lack of any real narrative arc covers these songs with a frost that makes it hard to get close to the album. Summer’s gone, youth has fled, and the songs’ protagonists have only the vapor trails of their own mistakes to hang onto — but we never develop enough of a bond with them to really get inside their stories.

Still, there’s a lot to love here, particularly for fans of the genre. Start yourself off with “Tomorrows Gone” and “Face the Music” and see if you don’t agree.

-Jefito Blog
http://jefitoblog.com/blog/?cat=22 - http://jefitoblog.com/blog/?cat=22

"Sarah Moore"

Mellow, regretful love songs and forlorn ballads make up the mostly DIY album by Will Harrison, marking his debut as a solo artist. Playing most of the instruments (guitar, banjo, piano, percussion, accordion, harmonica, Owl call, etc.), writing all of the songs, and recording and mixing the disc in his apartment studio, Harrison has taken his sound into his own hands. In this sense, A Place Called Home is as personal as an album gets. Harrison's time spent busking surely helped hone his music identity and personality. With an Americana flavor, this singer/songwriter's album fuses soft piano with textured harmonica and accordion. Delicate banjo tones color the depth and darkness of the selections (e.g., "Borderline"), making the impact of his sentiments that much more effective.

Harrison conveys a sense of lonely emptiness in several tracks, particularly "A Farewell to Autumn." With lines like "these country roads keep they keep on windin' just like the places in my mind," the introspective nature is quite apparent. Harrison takes the listener to "Seven Hollows," away from the city's downfalls, as the track empties itself into the sound of nighttime bugs and other rural buzzing, ending the disc. The main downfalls are that the album has little variation between songs (causing a slight bit of boredom towards the disc's end) and the printed lyrics inside the liner notes have no punctuation, continuing across two pages without reference points. Beyond the reading difficulty and album's super-consistency, A Place Called Home wraps itself with warm tones over its chilly mood, succeeding as an artist's initial release.

- Sarah Moore
www.theowlmag.com - www.theowlmag.com


A Place Called Home 2007



Will Harrison's mother taught him to play the piano almost before he could walk. He didn't really care much for it, though, until one summer visit to cousins in the country: “They all played guitar and sang... needless to say, I went home and asked my dad for a guitar.” Then Will hit the regular musical milestones of adolescence - boy forms band, band plays on local radio station, boy leaves band because he wants to try other things. But living in a small town does have its advantages. “I'll never forget my mom taking me to Hardy, Arkansas to the town square. Every Sunday afternoon all these people would gather around with banjos, mandolins, dulcimers, and guitars. They'd play these great old traditional tunes for hours, just having fun. That really left its mark on me.”

At age 16 Will knew that music had its choke-hold on his entire being. While his family did want him to find a career to 'fall back on', Will pressed on with songwriting. “My family wanted me to go to college, but my 'plan B' was always welding... I've used it to pay the bills when music didn't. Actually, I owe a lot to welding. I worked the road quite a bit after age 18 - Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, North Carolina, Colorado... I always seem to write better when I'm traveling. I think you can hear [that time period] in my songs...” Literally. Even Will's new record was recorded in his home studio, built by money earned from welding AND busking.

While his deep, resonant voice is quite at home fronting big rock bands, Will's harnessing his power in more sparse, intimate settings and to astounding affect. Rustic and rootsy, his aptly titled debut solo album, A Place Called Home (2007, Circle Back Music), features Will's triple-threat abilities as singer, songwriter, and musician. While he plays most of the instruments, the album also features Matt McCord (Cake, The Arlenes, Team Sleep) and Chase Pagan (militia group) as well as a collection of songs that combine the fingerprints of Will's musical influences (James Taylor, Shawn Mullins, Johnny Cash), his gift for humble storytelling, and the soft echoes of a rural Arkansas upbringing.

A Place Called Home reaffirms that Americana-folk artists continue to achieve honesty and simple beauty in an age where video kills the radio star. It's comforting to know that artists like Will still care about the true bottom line, and that's how the listener connects to the music. “ I don't know if my music will ever affect change, but I hope it affects someone... That's what music is - finding your own personal truth within the lyrics. Some people write 100 songs in a year. I'm just the opposite. I'd rather wait for that perfect moment of inspiration that you can't MAKE happen... it just does. That's when the song's really going to have something to say."