“If you’re a fan of great acoustic finger picking, Erin Harpe’s new record will do right by you... the disc is good fun... A gentle, unassuming record with restorative powers here... use, and enjoy.”
–The Rock Doctor
If you’re a fan of great acoustic finger picking, Erin Harpe’s new record will do right by you. Meet Me In The Middle is her 7th self produced album, recorded in Erin’s home studio, engineered by her husband Jim Countryman. Containing 4 new originals and 6 traditional blues classics, this disc is good fun.
It’ll be interesting in a few years to re-visit albums recorded and released during the pandemic to see how they hold up, and I’m betting Meet Me In The Middle will float to the top. The album is just Erin’s voice, some fine guitar playing (as well as kazoo and some foot percussion), with ukulele bass and occasional backing vocals from Jim. A quick note on the inside sleeve says “recorded in June 2020 while quarantined in our 3rd floor apartment in Jamaica Plain, MA.” The risk with an album this stark is there’s nowhere to hide and you can’t pretty it up with slick production techniques and gadgets. You’d better have some pretty great songs, and Harpe has 10 of ‘em.
The sonic sparseness of Meet Me In The Middle and the heart of the songs gives this a kind of ‘Cold Mountain’ feel, but more blues than bluegrass-y. I find that with acoustic records like this, less is more. As a singer Erin is not unlike Maria Muldaur (an artist I mention often, I know), whether she’s singing her own songs or stuff that she’s pulled from Sippie Wallace or Memphis Minnie. In fact, without consulting the credits on the back cover I wouldn’t have been able to tell her songs from what she got from Sippie or Minnie, not to mention the other traditional numbers included too.
With Meet Me In The Middle, Erin and her husband are self-healing themselves through these tough times with the power of music. The minute you pop this into your CD player or pull it up on your Spotify or I Tunes, you’ll be feeling those warm vibes too. A gentle, unassuming record with restorative powers here… use, and enjoy.
KEY CUTS: Hard Luck Woman, When I Lay My Burden Down, One Fine Day
–The Rock Doctor