A songwriter walking in the footsteps of Dylan and Lou Reed.
A Canadian who has released 17 previous albums but who remains something of a secret on this side of the Atlantic, Kyp Harness has built a reputation as a serious singer songwriter and he is heavily praised by Ron Sexsmith, Mary Margaret O’Hara (who sings on ‘Poverty Line’), Steve Earle and Daniel Lanois. So, what’s all the fuss about?
‘Poverty Line’ posits Harness as a fine writer with a slightly Dylan indebted voice whose songs are delivered in, indeed, a slightly Dylan indebted manner. That’s not to say he’s a copycat. Some of the songs here are immensely rewarding as on the wounded bruise which is ‘It’s Raining Inside’ with its wearied drive given slight relief by a tender string arrangement. Melancholia suits his voice and the better songs here are lamentations. ‘Only Love’ is both tender and vulnerable and ‘Enuff2Nite’ (which features some brilliant harmonies from Ms. O’Hara) rolls out its insecurity with a dead pan Lou Reed like delivery. Reed comes to mind again on the more upbeat ‘I’m So Happy’ which chugs along with an early VU like riff while the western ballad, ‘Less Sweet Than Bitter’, reminds one of Butch Hancock.
There’s something of a yin/yan aspect to the album with Harness’ streetwise rock’n’roll strut able to accommodate both the optimistic ‘Blue Skies’ and the apocalyptic title song. It’s a disc which is well worth investigating if you dig urban stained troubadours with a street savvy bent.
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