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Martin Harley - Mojo Fix (60/20 Records)

Star rating: 

MOJO FIX is as colourful and striking an album as its cover. It's the latest release from Martin Harley – leader of the British blues trio The Martin Harley Band – and whilst blues provides the soul of this richly-textured album, it's Harley's panoramic rendering of it that creates the little masterpiece that this record truly is. With gently confident watering, Martin's blues grows from seed to brightly blossoming spectacle in roughly three and a half minutes. And each track blooms with distinctly different flowers – some bluesy, some folky, some rockabilly, too.

Take, for instance, Ball & Chain – a swampy, brooding lizard of a song that slithers along steadily until it bursts into colour with wide stereo backing vocals, blustery percussion and a sorrowful delta blues harp. Then there's Cardboard King, a string-laden acoustic folk song with a Martin Simpson feel. And talking of inspirations, the beautiful Treading Water surely tips its cap to John Martyn whilst the energetic Mean Old City is a pretty stunning stab at Hendrix. Wrecking Ball is classic rockabilly, with its shot of red hot gypsy fiddle, and Tightrope is a sunny, happy-go-lucky ukulele song.
There are many reasons to laud praise on MOJO FIX, but its biggest strength lies within its reluctance to be defined. Rather like a Tom Waits release, Martin Harley's new album is always surprising, constantly beguiling and perpetually enjoyable.
Liam Wilkinson
Northern Sky