Cousin Harley – It’s a sin (album review)

Posted by Angel On October - 1 - 20105,844 views

Let’s introduce Cousin Harley for us Europeans, first i’d like to say that this album wasn’t sent to me by their label. I’ve written this album review simply because they so much deserve attention!

CH’s consists of Paul Pigat (A.k.a. Cousin Harley), guitarpicker and songwriter extraordinaire, a big force in the Canadian rockabilly scene. Last solo album is titled ‘Boxcar Campfire’ als also frontman of the Paul Pigat Jazztrio. Apart from sitting in as a guitarman for bluesman Jim Byrnes he also made a couple of very well balanced jazz, rockabilly and fingerstyle guitarinstruction dvd’s. Keith Picot; Swing/jumpblues doublebassplayer (like a true rockabilly ought to play of course). For readers who are doublebass fanatics; This man you have to have seen and heard to believe what he’s capable of. Not one of those bassplayers who have to stand on their bass or lift it up above their head and such, he won’t need that kind of showmanship, trust me, Picot swings his butt off, and possibly yours while he’s at it! Last and certainly not the least is Jesse Cahill. Highly acclaimed Canadian drummer, especially in the jazz scene over there. Played with a lot of jazzmusicians, including “Fathead” Newman (Ray Charles hornblower).

Cousin Harley first got together about five years ago, since then they brought out two albums, Jukin’ and Hillbilly Madness. Each of the two albums do their titles more than justice! It’s a Sin was issued on Pigat’s own label, littlepig records. Album’s a mix of raw rockabilly, hillbilly bluegrass, little blues and loads of other styles. These 3 powerhouse musicians know how to get a great vibe, using very well written and arranged songs. Great breaks, changes of pace, rhumba-ish style to flaming blues, it’s all there, sometimes even with tastefull Steelguitar, great! Noticable difference from the other 2 albums is the rawer guitar tone, due to the fact that Pigat has become a Gretsch Guitars (praise be!) endorser. True rockabillies know what i’m talking about, that sound! I’ll try to give you a taste of a couple of tracks on the album; ‘Mr Conductor man’; Rockabillies and bluesmen seem to have this weird attraction to trains, kinda’ weird. Anyway, this is a rockhard opener to set the right trend using a good slapback echo sound in front in the mix. Tight breaks, stompin’ slapbass and so on. And this raises expectations for the next songs in a big way. 1 of the big influences of almost every rockabilly guitarplayer is Merle Travis, who used a great deal of humor in his playing and lyrics. Paul more than masters the so called Travispicking style and executes it flawlessly in ‘Beaver fever’. Very impressive and clean playing. ‘2 bottles of booze’ is where the blues comes out, a nice touch is Paul’s raw, yet warm singing voice. ‘Swingin’ like a mofo’ is an uptempo instrumental that shouts Jazz with every breath, this is where true drummer Cahill shines and Pigat’s well of guitarlicks still doesn’t seem to dry up. Masterclass I say! I’d like to review this 13 track album but i won’t. There is so much content for the listener to enjoy, just too much to mention, regarding diversity in style, songwriting and sheer musicianship. Despite all these words of praise, i tried to filter out sounds that weren’t performed right just for the sake of this review. I didn’t succeed, this is just a great album to have in your roots/rockabilly collection. More mature than the 2 previous albums? Nope, because these men already knew what they were doing years ago. Let’s be the devils advocate for a minute and compare them to the alltime rockabillies, The Stray Cats; In my opinion Brian Setzer is the only one of the three who stands as far as musicianship and technical ability goes. In Cousin Harley it’s all 3 of them as they are all very widely influenced. Goes without saying that this is a different time then when the Stray cats emerged, Cousin Harley’ll never reach their status, simply because of the fact that Paul is in his early 40’s, to name something. But 1 thing is for damn sure and this is hard for me to say as a long time Setzer admirer; Brian, start practising your guitarlicks! They visited Holland this summer and i took about every chance to go and see them live and drink a good couple beers with them also. They truly are in good contact with their Dutch fans. I’ll leave you with this youtube footage where they totally smoked ‘De Kroeg’ in Geldrop, Holland.

Cheers, Angel

3 Responses to “Cousin Harley – It’s a sin (album review)”

  1. Brett says:

    These Guys really rock!

  2. Angel says:

    They’re foookin amazing 🙂

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