“an excellent storyteller… a troubadour, like Roy Book Binder... she just seems to have so much fun in her playing and she certainly puts everything into it”
Recently released, Erin Harpe’s latest album, Meet Me In The Middle is her fourth on VizzTone. For this she goes back to her roots in Country Blues which is self-produced and recorded at her home studio with her husband/bass player, Jim Countryman. It’s a collection of 10 songs, 4 self-penned, all in an acoustic format with Erin playing acoustic, 12 string and slide guitars as well as vocals, kazoo and foot percussion. Jim chips in with ukulele bass and backing vocals. She opens with three of her own songs, the first being All Night Long and this sets the stage for her finger picking style (praised by Billy Gibbons and that’ll do for me) along with a racy vocal on a slide Blues. As with the rest of the album it’s pared back with just bass and minor percussion added to the guitar and vocal. Jim’s backing vocal is part of a call and response section. As I said earlier, this is an acoustic album so don’t expect too many fireworks and Hard Luck Woman follows a gentle path as does Meet Me In The Middle. This is slide guitar, gently played in the old style of Blues players. Harmonies are well executed. I’d say that Piedmont Blues is Erin’s style as she shows this well on the Sippie Wallace classic Women Be Wise. It’s refreshing to hear this clean gentle sound after listening to so many electric Blues Rock albums recently. The kazoo is broken out for this one and I’ve not heard one of them for a long time. Erin has the voice to suit this style of music and I can imagine this coming across well in a small, intimate concert. Lucille Bogan’s I Hate That Train Called The M&O is a slow, mournful Blues with a drawled vocal. It’s a tale of lost love and shows that she is an excellent storyteller. Added bass and minimal percussion are the only embellishments.
Another cover is the well- known traditional Rollin’ And Tumblin’. She ups the pace a little and although you’ll be used to the Eric Clapton and other versions, Erin gives a very good account of herself with Jim contributing good bass runs during the slide solos. You’ll need to be careful how you say the next title; Pick Poor Robin Clean could be a bit of a tongue twister after a few lemonades! This confirms Erin as a troubadour, like Roy Book Binder. The kazoo is back out and she just seems to have so much fun in her playing and she certainly puts everything into it. You don’t really need to do anything to the classic Spiritual, When I Lay My Burden Down as all of the power is in the lyric. Erin gives it a sympathetic treatment with some harmony from Jim. She has such an easy style, highlighted on Memphis Minnie’s What’s The Matter With The Mill, but that doesn’t mean easy to play, it’s just that she makes it sound easy. That comes with experience of course but also when you love what you’re doing. You just lose yourself in her songs but this one, like a lot of other Blues songs, is difficult to pin down as to whether there’s any innuendo in there. There’s no change in direction right to the last track, One Fine Day, although it does sound like an autoharp is being used. I may be completely wrong of course. No matter what, she goes out on a self-penned spiritual level and you leave the album feeling totally refreshed.
[original article link, scroll down to 27/11/2020)