I saw Harbor & Home once but I honestly wasn’t in the right mind frame to see a band like them. Their calm alternative country twang just wasn’t what I needed on a Friday night so I honestly kind of wrote them off. Well, years later, I find myself on a plane on my way to a family reunion with a stack of CDs that need to be reviewed. Much like I do at home with my never ending stack of albums to review, I closed my eyes and played roulette on my downloaded Spotify playlists full of albums to review. What luck. Harbor & Home’s 2017 ‘Fighter’ release was up first. Honestly, I was excited. I hate flying and with my anxiety sky high and my nerves getting the best of me, some calm southern twang may have been just what I needed.
So much for a calming country twang, “Wont Let Go” opens this album with a bang. Throughout the first minute, you are introduced to that country twang that I knew was coming but also introduced to an ever growing amount of passion and power that explodes into focus about a minute and a half in. Any preconceived notion I had about this band instantly went right out the window and any fear I had about my bumpy plane ride was gone due to the sense of comfort that the music brought me.
Things slow down a bit as the album rolls into “Storms Won’t Find Me” but the compassion and love that each note and word is treated with doesn’t change at all. With a subtle slide guitar in the background, the southern twang is alive and well in the vocals and styling of this slower song but it’s not over the top or obnoxious. Honestly it’s absolutely perfect. Much like the first song, the building energy in the beginning of the song comes to a peak about two minutes in and, love the music and lyrics or don’t, there’s no denying the power and talent of the vocals during this climax.
“Cruel” starts with a beautiful piano lick before jumping into an almost dancey beat. A completely different style than the previous two songs, I loved the main stream vibe about this track but also loved how it was something that you probably would never hear on the mainstream radio stations, there’s definitely something catchy and infectious about this song that makes it totally accessible but there still something completely unique and interesting about it.
The dance continues as the album moves into “Devil’s Got No Hold”. Still infectious, this song takes a turn to the darker side when it comes to the vocals and lyrics which shows yet another side of this truly innovative and interesting group. This is one of those songs that belongs in a movie. It’s theatrical in nature with how it’s so subtle but packs such a punch. “Gone” is another song I could see out into a movie but whereas I see “Devil’s Got No Hold” in a darker apocalyptic movie, I can hear “Gone” in one of those finding yourself/coming to age movies. An upbeat song with deep lyrics that had me listening to it over and over again as if to not missing a single message, this is definitely a track that will weasel it’s way onto my daily playlist.
The title track has a very rock n roll intro with shredding guitars and driving drums but, in no time, that southern charm creeps in. Definitely one of their more top-40 country songs on this album, had this been the first song I heard from these guys, I probably wouldn’t have lasted more than a few seconds t I love the way this song shows a sense of evolvement throughout this album. Although not my favorite on the album, the way the power of “Fighter” slides into the old timey intro of “When I’m Coming Home” is a thing of genius and something that shouldn’t work but somehow works perfectly. Although I don’t get into country music much, my favorite band of all time is Lucero which happens to be an alt-country group. “When I’m Coming Home” had a styling about it that instantly reminded me of some of Lucero’s more upbeat tracks. Although still much more mainstream that punk, there were a couple of punk and alternative elements that seemed to creep in here and there.
The eighth track on this album slows things back down to a calmer level. Not quite a ballad, “Cold Side” has a new sense of sensuality to it that has yet to be seen. From whistling to the loving lyrics, there’s something very free loving about this track and also something stunningly special about it. It may not be a get up and dance kind of song but it is definitely a track that makes you feel something. The swells in the music gain speed as the album rolls into “Not Today” which seems to find a happy medium between the beauty of “Cold Side” and “When I’m Coming Home”. Typically here is where I would analyze the lyrics in the liner notes but I don’t have those on the plane with me. All I can tell you is that there were many lines throughout “Not Today” that had me going back and trying to catch them all. A song about choosing “to see the joy in life” which a sense of undeniable passion in the vocals and instrumentation… I was an instant fan of this track.
“What Would I Do” definitely inches closer to that typical country side of things but there’s still elements to it that make it clearly Harbor & Home. That’s something magical about this band. Although I don’t know much about country music, I do know enough to say that most of it a,, sounds the same to me but there is something that definitely stands out about to group. “What Would I Do” definitely wasn’t my favorite song on this album but it was the perfect build up for “Follow Your Heart”. Let’s be honest, that title says everything you need to know. A lyric lady with her head in the clouds (literally and figuratively right now), this was instantly a charmer for me and I found myself just watching the world underneath me through the small window on my plane as this song rushed by. I wish I had more to say about the brilliance about “Follow Your Heart” but no matter how many times I listened to the track, I just kept literally getting lost in the clouds and for a girl who hates flying and avoids window seats and looking out of the tiny windows, that truly says everything.
With only three tracks left, I honestly thought I had heard everything Harbor & Home had to offer but then the album jumped into “The Only One” and the Jazz infused intro that came with it. Although not the most upbeat song on the album, the driving force behind it makes it a song that flies by with a sense of ease and I was left listening to it a couple of times as to not miss anything. “Carry Me Home” brings a sense of drama to the last portion of this album in the. Most perfect way. Steady and fairly slow, it’s as if every word and ever beat hits you like a ton of bricks. You can feel the heaviness in the lyrics even if you can’t relate to them. This is one of those songs that I would love to see live and just feel the energy as everyone is hit right in the feels.
“Some Kind of Lonely” finishes off this brilliant album in a perfect way. Taking elements that had been introduced throughout the album and releasing all of them on the listener without a sense of being overwhelming or trying too hard is definitely exactly what this song does. Instead of trying to end the album on an upbeat and happy note, this song closes out the adventure with a sense of honesty and rawness that makes you want to go back to the beginning and start the journey all over again.
I hate flying. I hate everything about airports and planes and tiny plastic cups of Diet Coke. I just hate it and my anxiety typically gets the best of me on travel days. I may still have two hours left on this flight but I honestly don’t even care. “Fighter” by Harbor & Home will be on repeat until I land and will continue to help me forget I am on a plane.
My Favorite Track(s): “Cruel”; “Not Today”
Chances Of Getting A Noise Complaint While Listening To In An Apartment: 6.1 out of 10
For Fans Of: Cowboy Boots, Slow Dancing, and Jigs
Dance-ability: 6.7 out of 10
What My Cats Thought Of It: I can only assume they were at home destroying things while I sat on the plane and listened to this
How Badly I Want To See This Performed Live: 8 out of 10
My Overall Rating: 4.12 out of 5
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