My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Tag Archives: Jessica Harp

Moving backstage

Former Wrecker Jessica Harp surprised many by her recent announcement that she was leaving her record label and abandoning hopes of a solo career in favour of becoming a full time songwriter. While retaining rather more dignity than Jason Michael Carroll’s unforgettable but rather sad “Arista and I are going our seperate [sic] ways! They called and said they would be moving forward without me!” this may be a case of jumping before she was pushed, as Jessica’s solo singles had failed to set the charts alight, although her now ex-label has chosen to release her album digitally as a parting gift for her fans.

Time will tell whether she will be successful in her new course. She would hardly be the first Nashville songwriter to start out wanting to be an artist in her own right, or indeed the first to enjoy a short chart career.

Dean Dillon’s distinctive turn of phrase has made him one of the most sought-after writers in the past 20 years. With a voice as quirky and distinctive as his writing, he started out as a singer. A string of singles on RCA were minor hits in the late 70s and early 80s, including the first versions of his own songs ‘Nobody in His Right Mind Would’ve Left Her’ and ‘Famous Last Words Of A Fool’. The former was a top 30 hit, the latter failed to make the top 50, but neither had the chart impact they deserved – or that they had when George Strait covered them. The label also teamed Dean up with honky tonker Gary Stewart as a duo, releasing one full length album and a six track EP. Those early RCA recordings (both solo and duet) are virtually all now available on one CD. A successful run as a songwriter followed, but he had not given up his dreams of solo stardom, and in 1988 he signed to Capitol. Two albums for that label, and two more for Atlantic, failed to quite take off. The critical moment arrived when he planned to release ‘Easy Come Easy Go’ as a single – and found Strait wanted to record the song. He relinquished the song, and settled down to life as a writer for others.

I’ve never really understood why Larry Boone’s solo career never took off. He was signed to Mercury in the late 80s, and later Columbia; he was good looking, had a great voice, and was an excellent songwriter. But only a few of his singles charted, the most successful being his #10 ‘Don’t Give Candy To A Stranger’ which was our Classic Rewind a week ago. Luckily, he had that songwriting talent to fall back on.

Skip Ewing was another recording artist to enjoy a handful of hit singles in the late 80s, then turn to writing them for others when his own chart career wound down. He had much more success in the latter capacity, writing multiple #1s. He made a return to the airwaves in his own right as Reba’s duet partner on the radio version of ‘Every Other Weekend’.

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Single Review: Jessica Harp – ‘A Woman Needs’

Written by Jordan Stacey.  – J.R.

Jessica Harp was once one half of The Wreckers along with Michelle Branch. After one successful record they decided they’d go back to pursuing their solo careers. Jessica looked to be off to a good start last year with her first song, ‘Boy Like Me’, climbing nicely when it suddenly died out at #30 on the charts. She comes back this time with the title track to her delayed debut album A Woman Needs. Much like her first single this one is an uptempo song with a catchy driving beat. What probably killed ‘Boy Like Me’ was that while catchy it was a little hard to relate to it. The first verse was inventive if hard to follow. This song sounds much less convulted while sacrificing some of the inventiveness.

Girl power anthems were all the rage back in the 90’s with Shania Twain and Jo Dee Messina leading the way. They’ve more or less gone away at this point with the last one in recent memory being Bomshel’s ‘Fight Like A Girl’ which also peaked at #30. However this one feels like a hit, it has the same clear voiced performance that drove most of Twain and Messina’s biggest hits, it’s catchy as hell, and just judging by my little sister and her friends singing along to this one I can see the target audience eating this up.

Jessica sounds fun and lively on it, the music doesn’t blend together for the most part, and it’s relatable, all the things hit songs are made of. Is it a great song that’ll be remembered in ten years? Probably not. It’s a good sounding single that should get Jessica the hit she’s been looking for.

Grade: B

Secret Collaborations

question_mark2Recently I’ve bought many Trisha Yearwood albums, namely Hearts In Armor, Inside Out, Real Live Woman and The Song Remembers When, in that order (the last one hasn’t arrived yet). The other day I was listening to all of my Trisha music on shuffle (which adds H,HatPoL and Jasper County to the previous albums) when the song “Try Me” from Jasper County came on. Listening to the song closely, I found that the background singer was very familiar — it sounded like Ronnie Dunn! Checking the Wikipedia page for the album confirmed my suspicion: it was him! I decided I want to find all of these so-called “secret collaborations” (I made up the name myself). It’s basically when another artist (preferably a noticeable one) contributes either by singing or with instruments, but is not credited except possibly in the liner notes.

Here are all of the ones I can think of. Some are repeated from above or past reviews:

Contributed vocals:
“Try Me” by Trisha Yearwood – Ronnie Dunn is singing harmony vocals.
“Mean Girls” by Sugarland – Brad Paisley is playing the guitar on this track.
“Blue Diamond Mines” by Kathy Mattea – Patty Loveless sings harmony vocals.
“Trying To Find Atlantis” by Jamie O’Neal – Carolyn Dawn Johnson does background vocals.
“Where Are You Now” by Trisha Yearwood – Kim Richey and Mary Chapin Carpenter

Contributed Instrumental Work:
“Boy Like Me” by Jessica Harp – Keith Urban is playing guitar.
“I Hope” by The Dixie Chicks – John Mayer does the guitar solo.
“The Weight Of Love” by LeAnn Rimes – Keith Urban has a guitar solo here.
Almost all of Home by The Dixie Chicks – Chris Thile (of Nickel Creek) provided the mandolin work.

So I want you to give me as many as possible!
I know I had more, but I can’t remember them all. I think I knew of another track that Keith Urban played guitar on but I forgot it…

Single Review: Jessica Harp – ‘Boy Like Me’

Jessica Harp

In case you don’t know, Jessica Harp was the not-Michelle-Branch-half of The Wreckers, a country duo on hiatus currently (Although they seem to still get nominated for stuff for some odd reason…). If you still don’t remember, they had the hits “Leave The Pieces” and “My, Oh My”, two great songs from their partially disappointing debut album.

This song finds Harp trying to start her solo career in country music, and it’s a pretty good song! First of all, the song rocks just enough for mainstream radio, but has enough twang to still be country. It has a good balance. It doesn’t hurt that Keith Urban is playing the guitar throughout, and it really reminds me of his hit “I Told You So”. (Rumor has it that Urban was going to record “Boy Like Me” as “Girl Like Me” but decided not to, so he contributed to Harp’s version instead.) It has a great mix of electric guitar and more traditional country sounds, not to mention Harp herself, who proves herself as a vocalist.

I never knew she could sing on her own! She was always the harmony half of The Wreckers, so it’s nice to hear her great voice, and she sounds engaging here. She has just enough grit to make this song believable, and she’s very entertaining. She doesn’t belt, but sings like she really wants that boy who’s just like her. She can also make her voice big enough to handle the chorus. Luckily, she never has to stretch, but sounds very comfortable in this song.

The song is very frivolous, but not in the annoying and mindlessly catchy way that the recent “Chicken Fried” is. Harp sings about how she wants a boy like her who wants to be more… rebellious… than I will ever be in my life. She wants that guy who will “lead her down the wrong road”, and she makes it sound fun! Most of the lyrics are fairly nondescript, but there are some fun parts like where she sings, “You’re the kind of boy who likes the kind of girls who like to fool around with the boys on the first date.” There are parts with some fun tongue-twisters that just sound like pure fun, but none of it is groundbreaking in any way.

It’s interesting to contrast this song with a single I reviewed last month, Gloriana’s “Wild At Heart”. While that fun song is way too saccharine (I’ve stopped liking it since I wrote my review), this song is just rough enough to make it appealing to most of mainstream country radio. Still, a really fun song. I hope her solo album keeps up this kind of quality.

Grade: A-

Written by Jerry Flowers

Listen to “Boy Like Me” on Jessica’s Myspace here.
Buy here from iTunes.