Kemp Harris,
Sometimes in Bad Weather
(Almost Famous, 2003)

Kemp Harris has produced a deliciously slow-burning blend of jazz, soul and folk that is so laid back it is horizontal!

This talented guy writes the songs, sings, plays piano and produced this delightful album. From the opening "Waterbaby," soulful, slow and sexy, through the uptempo African folk-influenced "Something You Heard Before" to the cool jazz ballad "It's Just Us," Kemp immediately grabs your attention in a subtle and hypnotic way -- you can't resist, and slide deeper into the groove.

"Ruthie's" has more of a southern American folk feel about it, with some lovely guitar work by Josh Stoltzfus. "What Are the Chances" insinuates itself into your conciousness as a soul ballad, gradually morphing into a gospel-influenced vamp that exudes energy on a completely different level. "Now and Then" opens in similar vein, but follows a more spacey, new-agey rhythm and retaining the mellowness throughout. He starts "I'm Glad" with solo vocals, then adds fingersnaps, then backing harmony vocals; the track stands out for this difference and breaks the slightly somnolent feel without completely destroying the mood.

"Bring You Down," a pointed social commentary, is set to a smooth jazz/funk musical backing, and then the title track slows down a notch or so, keeping more to the jazz side of things -- whatever the weather, the music and the lyrics are superbly cool! Kemp draws to a close with "If Loneliness Were Black," a strong finish with a loose jazz ballad.

This has been on constant replay while I've been reviewing it, and is still not filed away on the shelf -- it is an ideal de-stressing device. Kemp's vocals and his music blend in a dreamy blur that allows you to focus on his words, or wallow in the luxury of the rich sound. Wonderful! Just wonderful!

- Rambles
written by Jenny Ivor
published 10 January 2004

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