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Grow Your Own - The Martin Harley Band

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Genre: Blues / Artist: The Martin Harley Band / Audio CD released 2008-04-14 at Villainous

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      16.08.2010 03:25
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      3rd album for the Martin Harley Band

      Pride of place in my car at the moment is this third album from the Martin Harley Band. If you have read my review of 'Money Don't Matter', then you'll know I have had the pleasure of meeting the band on a number of occasions, and having seen them live and spoken to them about their music over a number of beers, I'm still astounded by their humility and down to earth nature.

      Although signed artists, the band are still relatively 'cult' in terms of commerciality, although the world of blogging and facebook and the like seems to be increasing the exposure somewhat. I believe that, as I write, Martin is about to start his 'Blues Gone Green' tour around the country, gigging live and no doubt acoustically at times as well. Fans of his will no doubt be hoping that some of the gems from this album will be included, and there certainly are plenty of them.

      Their style has a blend of blues and rock about it, with changing tempos and the occasional injection of pace balanced well by acoustic and soothing sounds, with simple guitar and vocal combinations doing a lot of the work.

      Although it's quite rare for an album, my favourite track is the one that kicks it off: there's something nostalgic and very rustic about the lyrics and sound of 'One For The Road', with lyrics such as 'another nameless bar in another nameless town' and a very gentle instrumental element making it instantly likeable and smooth to enjoy. This is then swiftly followed by a more up tempo bluesy number in 'When I Go', which shows the album to be taking a similar turn to their previous one, 'Money Don't Matter' in terms of fluctuating styles and tempo throughout the album.

      Indeed, the ebb and flow of tempo is one of the appeals of this album, and thinking about it as a constructed piece of work, there is a controlled balance that makes you listen to the lyrics just as much as the actual music and tempo. The beautiful 'Amelie' is in complete contrast to fun and frolics of 'A Thousand Miles of Sky', and I think these two show the levels of contrast included here on this album in terms of musicality. Ultimately, it's an album that seems to be much more focused and particular in comparison to Money Don't Matter, which had more of a fun element but also more flamboyant and free flowing. This has a lot more control to it, or so it feels, as well as more emotion and meaning.

      However, no doubt I'm missing the point here. What goes on in the minds of this musically gifted trio transfers well into their music, with thumping happy sounds full of passion from Graeme Ross' double bass to Pete Swatton's drumming and then Martin's excellent voice and guitar skills. There's a host of additional talent included here in 'guest' roles as the tracks experiment with other instruments, all of which work very well, and it all aids the construction of the album very well. This is perhaps best summed up by the title track, stating that if you want something to grow, then you need to learn how to grown your own, as it were.

      These guys certainly do grow their own, and it lasts right up until the last bars of the last track. Of course, you don't have to listen to it all in order, but if you do, then you'll find the flow so smooth and well constructed that by the time 'End of the World' comes along, you'll be ready for it's mellow sound, having been taken up and down in very controlled fashion throughout the rest of the album. Once more, I can't recommend Martin and co enough, with another top album here. It's great, from start to finish, and although I of course have my favourites over others in general, these tracks all have their place at one time or another, and it's one that's going to be staying in my car for a while longer yet.

      Grow Your Own is available from amazon.co.uk for £7.99 at the moment, although having a look round may produce better prices elsewhere. If you live near one of their gigs, make sure you go and watch them live, as they're a brilliant live act. I know they're extremely busy, but popping along to their website (www.martinharleyband.com) or searching and 'liking' them on facebook will keep you posted as to the whens and wheres. Until then, I suggest you get yourself one of their albums and enjoy it. Grow Your Own is very good, and one I'm glad to own. Recommended.

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    • Product Details

      Disc #1 Tracklisting
      1 One For The Road
      2 When I Go
      3 Grow Your Own
      4 Amelie
      5 Nobodies Fault But Mine
      6 A Thousand Miles Of Sky
      7 Stone Cold Believer
      8 How Long
      9 Blues At My Window\x{2026}Slight Return
      10 Sail On
      11 End Of The World