Sunday, May 22, 2016

Album Review: Keith Harkin - On Mercy Street

Keith Harkin is a name you might recognize from the band Celtic Thunder.

On Mercy Street is Keith's second solo outing.  This album is guaranteed to make everyone sit up and take notice. If you are expecting the type of music you'd hear on Celtic Thunder's records then you'll be disappointed, because On Mercy Street is pure Keith Harkin.  

If there was a recipe for this album it might read something like this:

1 part rock
2 parts folk
a dash of dreamy Irish vocals.
Mix together and serve with your favorite drink. (Maybe some Irish whiskey)

On Mercy Street shows how much Keith has grown since he released his self titled solo album in 2012. This album still has the polish that we've come to expect from Keith, but it has a bit more of a edge to it. This album is more Keith as most of the songs are written by him. There are less covers on On Mercy Street than on his debut solo album.

The rockers "Mercy" and  "Keep On Rolling" will get your toes tapping. "Keep On Rolling" has a country, sitting on the porch jamming with the gang sound. There's nothing more fun then guys from England or Ireland singing country flavored music..

These songs seem to reflect where Keith is at in life now. These songs are thought provoking, while still saying fun; emotional and yet with enough oomph to make you want to get up and move.  It is easy to see that these songs reflect a man on the move, especially "Along The Road." The bluesy "Wait On Me" is another song about a man whose wheels keep him on the move. This is song that is bound to tug at your heartstrings. If you can be moved to tears by a song, this one just might do it.

Though this album is more folksy with a bit of rock flair, Keith shows off his vocal range on songs like "First Time." His voice soars, even though this song definitely has a 60s pop chorus.  "Lauren and I" will be familiar to Celtic Thunder fans. This is one song that makes you wonder how a man can hit those high notes, just as it does when he sings "Take me to my Mona Lisa" on "Take Me Down."

"September Sessions" is song that is a piano-centric tune. It has a tinge of R & B and the blues. The piano sets it apart from the very guitar oriented songs that make up most of On Mercy Street.

"My Love Goes On" is the type of folk ballad that you might from the likes of Gordon Lightfoot. That's the type of songwriting you can expect from Keith Harkin. He doesn't create throwaway songs like you'd find on top 40 radio. Another ballad is "Risk The Fall." Keith creates a song that beautiful and heartfelt in its simplicity.

The album closes with "Auld Lang Syne" This seems an odd choice of songs, but when you see Keith as a man at a turning point in his life, this song couldn't be more appropriate.

On Mercy Street is a wonderful snapshot of where Keith Harkin is in his life. His music is changing and evolving. This isn't the same sweet Irish boy from Celtic Thunder. This is a man who has taken control of his music and his destiny, and On Mercy Street is definitely worth adding to your collection.

Rating; 5 stars

Listen: Mercy 

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