If music were a science, it would require a formulaic approach. There could be absolute “musical truths,” and musical greatness could be achieved through discovering what works and what doesn’t. On a very basic level, this seems reasonable. Blues champions like Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan are permanently cemented into the foundation of the genre for making it what it is today. Using a formulaic approach can give a band a definite sound, and if a band is looking to be compared to other artists then recreating music is more effective than creating it. The problem is that this angle usually leaves us with records that are no more than satisfactory – the music is familiar, well-performed, and even well-written, but lacks anything that really demands attention. Nick Harless and The Harless Brothers’ debut, Warfield, finds itself falling into this rut far too often. The record is thoughtfully put together, and (for the most part) will have you tapping your foot along to Nick Harless’s guitarwork. Ultimately, though, Warfield is just underwhelming.
Warfield actually starts pretty strongly. The title track opens with a moderately paced southern riff coupled with drums that essentially follow a stomp-stomp-clap pattern. “Warfield” opens not exactly heavily, but definitely not softly. It gives the impression that the album will be a controlled, edgy demonstration of guitar talent. While not entirely false, “Warfield” is at least misleading. The Harless Brothers have a hard time staying away from the blues clichés that destine a band for a career of opening slots at summer festivals. “Leave Before You Change My Mind” is a perfect example of The Harless Brothers’ knack for writing showing off great guitar work that goes nowhere. Nick Harless plays fast and tight, but it gets lost in the regularity of the track.
The Harless Brothers should also stay away from writing ballads. Of the record’s three slower songs, the only one that doesn’t come off as contrived is the moody “I Don’t Love You Anymore.” “Complicated” and “Just Another Broken Heart” both feel as though they were placed on the record to try to add some of the dynamic missing from some of the album’s key tracks.
All in all, Warfield is a decent record. The Harless Brothers will convince you that they’re not a bunch of amateurs, and that they really know what they’re doing on the neck of a guitar. The big problem, however, is that once the final track fades away, you probably won’t remember what you’ve listened to.
The Review: 6.5/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– Sexy Thing
– Up To No Good
The Big Hit
Review by Richard MacDougall