Jason Hawk Harris Sets Foundation For Burgeoning Solo Career Via Debut ‘Love & The Dark’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

“I never had a hangover I liked,” Jason Hawk Harris sings on “Cussing at the Light,” the second song on his superb full-length solo debut, the aptly titled Love & The Dark via Bloodshot. It’s a somewhat understated statement, but one that reflects his ability to take what he’s given and then rally and rise above it. Harris, a former member of a band called the Show Ponies, imbues the album overall with a highly personal perspective, which is not so surprising considering the mayhem he was forced to deal with while writing the album. His mother passed away from complications of alcoholism, while his father went bankrupt due to being sued by no less a personage than the King of Morocco. To make matters worse — and who could imagine that they could get any worse than that? —  his sister was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and then gave birth to a premature son with cerebral palsy. Meanwhile, Harris had to deal with his own vices, not least of which was his struggle with addiction and the family trauma that beset him simultaneously.

While many of the song titles — “Confused,” “Giving In, “I’m Afraid,” et. al. — hint at the upheaval that beset him so suddenly, Harris manages to make a powerful impression. His intents are obvious, and the result is a literate and affecting set of songs that manage to find a path forward for the future.

Nevertheless, opening track “The Smoke and the Stars” reflects the miasma early on. A brooding ballad that barely rises above a whisper, it seems to set up the scenario, one of abject desperation and desire. The trudging “Phantom Limb” returns to that harrowing happenstance, but overall, Harris somehow manages to capture an energy and exhilaration that belies his sadder circumstance. “I’m Afraid” might hint at trepidation, but in reality, it’s a rowdy rocker that exudes confidence and conviction. The rambunctious “Cussing at the Light” exudes defiance, while “Blessed Interruption” hints at acceptance in somber yet stoic sway. 

Ultimately, as its title suggests, Love & The Dark accommodates its difficult dichotomy, and does so with grace and resolve that’s truly exceptional. Harris has set a firm foundation for his burgeoning solo career, one that bodes well for both personal and professional satisfaction.

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