Kemp Harris,
(Righteous Mischief, 2006)

Kemp Harris's vocals are at the core of Edenton and they shape the tone of most of the songs. The music backing his vocals simply confirms that you are listening to the blues.

The stage is set with "Sometimes," a short a cappella piece that leaves you wanting more of the blues. The Holmes Brothers add backing vocals on the next two songs as the vocals continue to define the mood in "Sweet Weepin' Jesus" and "Day After Day." The raspy vocals of "Tryin' Times" let the music add more to the mood and while the blend shifts the results remain excellent.

The words of "Ruthie's" are full of pain and hope, setting the tempo for a march that the drums underscore. He slides smoothly from the blues to gospel for "Didn't It Rain," and it shows some more of what he can do with voice alone. The guitar ends the brief sojourn out of the blues with the intro of "Mother Earth." The lyrics follow the tradition of singing about social issues focussing on the environment. "Miles Between Us" is very laid back, a disappearing trick as the singer says goodbye.

The rasp in his vocals suits "Nightlife" as once again his voice is what shapes the song to the blues. The piano gives what comfort can be found in "Edenton" as the lyrics paint a picture of a home changed but still home. The CD ends off where it began with "Sometimes (reprise)" and once again it is not long enough.

Kemp Harris is a great singer and his vocals are strong, often forming the mood and style of the song as much as the music does. Edenton is worth listening to for that alone, and the music that comes with it is also quite good.

[ visit the artist's website ]

review by
Paul de Bruijn

14 June 2008

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