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Amongst all of the metal releases in my current review pile is new solo album ‘Mojo Fix’ from Martin Harley and it is a different and intriguing listen. This is Martin’s fifth album as either a solo artist or with his blues trio The Martin Harley Band, both completely new names to me but this album, at least, is about as close as you can get to American Delta Blues as is possible, especially when you find out he was born in Cardiff, Wales! So, it’s not going to be for everyone who reads this website, but very much like the Rosco Levee album I reviewed recently, if your tastes in ‘rock’ are diverse then it’s definitely worth checking out. Martin Harley is a Weissenborn lap slide guitar specialist - you don’t need to research that, just listen to the guy - as well as playing many other instruments and singing. For this album he decided to go out to Texas and use a wide range of outside musicians for the first time and this has resulted in an apparently rockier approach then on previous releases. Obviously blues plays a huge part in his sound but there are also elements of folk, swing and rock.

Initially, when I heard the opening title track I was a little unsure of what was going to follow, but this is one of those albums that demands multiple listens to truly understand what Harley & Co are trying to say and the songs reveal themselves more and more on each listen. So much so that by the fifth or sixth spin I was wishing I had a Cajun drum in my collection to play along with; unfortunately, my desk and floor had to be inferior substitutes! As someone who, most of the time, listens to various subgenres of hard rock and heavy metal, his sound is not easy for me to pin down, but if I were to say to you a mixture of Diablo Swing Orchestra and Ry Cooder I’m hoping that would make at least a little bit of sense!. Tracks such as ‘Outlaw’, ‘Ball & Chain’, ‘Rum Shack’, ‘Working For The Man’ and ‘Outlaw City’ are all excellent slabs of authentic sounding blues with just a tiny modern twist and a nice clear production courtesy of Bob Parr (Brian Setzer Orchestra) that enables you to experience the full range of instruments on offer. Martin Harley can really play and also displays a pretty darn good voice as well. At only 34 minutes it’s not the longest of albums but the mature quality of the songs more than make up for that. Currently gigging in the US he will be returning to these shores in March for an extensive UK tour in support of this album and if you like ‘real’ blues then I would suggest you go and check him out. Martin Harley is another name I have to add to my ever growing list of artists to watch out for.
60/20 Records
Review by Rick Tilley
25th Feb 2013
1) Mojo Fix
2) Outlaw
3) Cardboard King
4) Ball & Chain
5) Treading Water
6) Wrecking Ball
7) Tightrope
8) Rum Shack
9) Working for the Man
10) Mean Old City
"...blues plays a huge part in his sound but there are also elements of folk, swing and rock."