REVIEW: Clay Harper’s “Dirt Yard Street” (LP)
Clay Harper’s — Dirt Yard Street, is an eight song EP with reflection of home. The tracks are all acoustic based, stripped back and presented with a straight-forward folk approach. Harper has recorded with such artists as: Brendan O’Brien, Chaz Jankel of the Blockheads, Martin Stone, Stone Temple Pilots, The Subsonics, Serbian superstar Milan Mumin, Murray Attaway, Rick Richards, Glenn Phillips, Kevn Kinney, Kevin Dunn, Duane Trucks and CeeLo Green.
First of-all, these songs are not what you would call pop music by any stretch, but the sensibility to emote just as strongly is there by way of the excellent singer/songwriter skills of Harper himself. I liken these songs to what the artist has to offer on his own level, rather than in comparison to the flavor of the month. For instance, the arrangements are rich and plentiful, but the energy is light and comprehensible, making it easy to process. Everything comes out well done, especially if you like folk music of a more serious standard and literal poignance to back it up.
It starts and ends all the same, with the title track “Dirt Yard Street” kicking it off with some sharp guitar lines and lyrics about what goes on around this mystical street. It is all about living and dying where he refers to as home, which anyone can relate to, and by the time it is over you long for that melody again, just like a memory. The guitar melodies are also fantastic as the next track, “A poem On A Pillow” comes soothing in with its beautiful melancholy refrain. This comes complete with brass and one of the finest vocal efforts from Harper.
“Life on A Windowsill” is a lower end tune with a lead bass guitar and light piano that both make it shine behind Harper’s voice, which takes you back to some of the points on the first track. The EP starts to catch its own threading by the time it’s over and you feel like you’re really on Dirt Yard Street. “A Car I Remember (Dirty Hands)” is another great track with some more brass giving it a strong jazz vibe. The vocals on this one are totally spoken word style, making it even more interesting. And you can hear his influences and that ilk level on this epic song in which it takes to work with such artists and this full circle production is no exception to that rule.
And the songs just get better as they go with “All The Mail Comes To Neighbor” keeping the street vibes flowing with some more heartfelt music to write home about. “Maybe I’ll Be There” has some strings to offer, while Harper stays on the mellow side of life for another slice of brilliance. And I really like “Come To My House” where Harper gives up his peace offering to love, memories and beauty on one of yet another fine tunes. I wanted to hear it again once “Somewhere there’s a Fire Waiting,” because it is all very true.