Album Reviews

Cousin Harley

Blue Smoke

Artist:     Cousin Harley meets cousin Merle Travis

Album:     Blue Smoke: The Music of Merle Travis

Label:     Little Pig Records

Release Date:     1.15.2018

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An album of Merle Travis covers always has an uphill battle, a struggle to catch the immediate impact of the late US country picking wizard in any truly meaningful way. Travis, like his old, late buddy, Chet Atkins, is no easy act to follow. So, there’s an inherent bravery here with this release.

Remarkably, for my money, this Canadian outfit successfully pull off quite a trick. An album that rattles and rolls along pretty damn perfectly, captures the essence of Travis, while also ripping along  with a full-on Rockabilly edge, twanging guitars, chicken-style-picking and the rest of the package, to deliver a genuinely top-quality release  that will probably come as a surprise to many and a delight to even more. This is an album that is positively worth catching, full of swirling country sounds and neatly executed picking.

Anyone who has a hankering for Western swing, rockabilly and straight in-your-face Travis picking will inevitably love this release. This is boisterous, exuberant music that grips and grabs you with a remarkable ease and sense of purpose. There’s a delightful adherence to the true power of Travis and his significance in the US music world and Cousin Harley clearly understand his importance and place in the country-rockabilly music world.

—Iain Patience

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