The Mark Har­ri­son Band have just launched their sixth album called The Road to Lib­er­ty. I met Mark at Eal­ing Blues Fes­ti­val a few years ago where I talked to him after his set. He was charm­ing and patient­ly chat­ted to a few of us for quite some time, dis­cussing the beau­ti­ful Nation­al Res­onator gui­tar he had played on stage. 

Mark’s a tru­ly unique tal­ent, pas­sion­ate about his art and in pos­ses­sion of an abil­i­ty to cast an amus­ing eye over life’s ups and downs which helps him cre­ate his wry lyrics. The sub­ject mat­ter can be any­thing from every­day sit­u­a­tions to musi­cians who have inspired him in some way. Mark calls him­self a roots artist which would seem like a suit­able enough all-encom­pass­ing descrip­tion for his fusion of blues – folk – coun­try and gospel.

This lat­est album The Road to Lib­er­ty is the work of Har­ri­son plus drum­mer and per­cus­sion­ist Ben Wel­burn with Charles Ben­field on dou­ble bass. The album cer­tain­ly does­n’t stint on con­tent: Part 1 con­tains 11 songs and Part Two con­tains 10 songs, with all the mate­r­i­al com­posed by Mark. One of my favourite tracks is Same Roads – mus­ings about time stand­ing still for too long, try­ing to read a book and being ‘stuck on the first page’ – the lyrics are not just a lock­down lament but rather a reflec­tion on the uni­ver­sal human con­di­tion. Such as the thought-pro­vok­ing Skip’s Song, in which Mark won­ders what “redis­cov­ered” blues artist Skip James real­ly thought of his young audi­ences. These lat­est songs add up a beau­ti­ful and cohe­sive col­lec­tion, gen­tle and under­stat­ed, reveal­ing a wealth of per­son­al stories. 

The songs were record­ed fair­ly swift­ly – only tak­ing two or three days, and the result­ing fresh­ness and imme­di­a­cy are pal­pa­ble. The pro­duc­tion qual­i­ties (Ben­field mixed and mas­tered the album) exhib­it a light­ness of touch that make this feel like a live record­ing; there’s an imme­di­a­cy and an inti­ma­cy. The focus is firm­ly on the music rather than pro­duc­tion wizardry. 

The dis­tinc­tive and expres­sive art­work is, as on all Mark’s albums, by Andy Hall of We Are Frank. 

There’s also a tour about to start, tour dates and tick­ets below. 

Buy the new album here    
Tour dates are on the site, from July 8th to August 22nd.

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