‘The Wrong Way’ and ‘Can A Poor Man Get A Fair Trial’ two albums from Kyp Harness(January 06, 2013)
To be fair I’m late writing this review but the tail end of 2012 vanished in flights and festivities. So here we are back in the UK in 2013 and I’m finally writing about a double album from Canadian singer-songwriter Kyp Harness. Now this ain’t your average run of the mill double album – it is two albums in one cover, ‘The Wrong Way’ and ‘Can A Poor Man Get A Fair Trial’ – so it’s not so much a double as two simultaneously-released albums. Right, now we’ve got that out of the way what do we have?
‘The Wrong Way’ is a broad-based collection of both down and up-beat ballads that slide across a plethora of themes defined by Kyp’s laid back, laconic vocal delivery and hung around catchy melodies. From the languid observations of ‘Autumn Leaves’ and ‘Baby Gets The Blues’ through the edginess and recoil of ‘The Wrong Way’ and ‘Lucky For You’ to the biting examination of ‘Girl From a Small Town’ there’s stark individuality and at the same time a faint echo of familiarity. For the second album, ‘Can A Poor Man Get A Fair Trial’ the stories still slip and slide across a rich pattern of influences but taken as a whole they tell darker, more narrative-based tales mixing legend and folk fables. Listen to ‘The Old Crone in The Forest’ and ‘The Old Man of the Mountain’ with their mystical and shadowy storylines, and then immerse yourself in the deathly starkness of ‘The Assassin’ and ‘The Snake’ to hear what I mean.
There will be those that find the lyrical shadows and uncertainties that Kyp raises in his darker songs too much to handle. This is emphasised by an anguished and dejected delivery that adds a powerful feeling of desolation. Nonetheless if you enjoy songs that engage with their subject and find, as I did, that Kyp’s unique vocal style; an acquired taste that’s a touch Cohen-esque, is equally engaging then this ‘double’ is one for you. You’ll find these albums on kypharness.net
Reviewer: Tom Franks