“Holding On” – Josh Harty

3 stars (out of 5)

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Josh Harty - 'Holding On' - cover (300dpi)Josh Harty; he’s a genuine, actual, one hundred per cent son of a preacher man. From the age of five, he performed in Lutheran churches around the Midwest with his father and he’s been a travelling evangelist ever since, only now, he’s spreading the word about his music across the USA and Europe. “Holding On” is Harty’s sixth album, following three solo albums and two collaborations with Blake Thomas and it’s full band effort with a core of Scott Beardsley (drums), Chris Boeger (bass), Chris Wagoner (guitar, mandolin and violin) and producer Blake Thomas (guitars and keys). The versatility of the line-up (and the quality of the players) allows the band to move seamlessly across the wide variety of Americana styles from the banjo, mandolin and Hammond-led title track to the high octane driving beat of “Shiver in the Dark”, pushed along by a pulsing rhythm section and a chugging guitar part.

The basic tracks were recorded live in the studio, giving the album a very immediate, cohesive feel despite the wide range of stylings. The playing’s relaxed and self-assured; there are plenty of nice licks and the arrangements fit together perfectly without any of the musicians ever hitting the loud pedal. “The Kind” is a perfect example, with delicate piano and guitar fills creating a beautiful backdrop before the uptempo chorus kicks in.

“Holding On” is a bunch of songs written on the road over the last few years, and that shows in the lyrics, with running or driving away as common themes and the centrepiece of the collection is the slow ballad, “Learn to Fight” which displays Harty’s laconic voice at its most powerful and vulnerable. “Holding On” works well as a self-contained unit, pulling in elements from across the Americana spectrum and sprinkling them across the ten songs to great effect.

“Holding On” is out on Friday April 8th and you can see Josh on his UK and Ireland tour over the next few weeks. You should make the effort; it’s worth it.