The sound of Clay Harper’s – Dirt Yard Street, is the sound of music at his feet with a fresh batch of eight original songs of his own, with mostly acoustic arrangements, piano, vocals and horns. The organic approach to the songs have a charming appeal to them, with Harper turning a world class songwriting and producing effort. I have not heard Harper before this album, but I do know the name is associated with a plethora of famous artists so the standard he lives up to on this is second to none and that is why it is so good.
I love this album, but it picks it mid-way through, after a slow start with the opener being “Dirt Yard Street” itself. And although I do like the song, it only hints at what’s to come. It does get the whole subject out of the way though, and that proves it to be well-placed at the beginning. I find “A Poem On A Pillow” to be a little better, but not really giving away much of what is yet to some, only hinting at it. But it does start to allow some more musicality to creep in, and it is a great track.
“Life On A Windowsill” is a throwback of a song that really just makes this album what it is. This is a song that emotes powerfully with everything it takes to nail a folk song and keep with the basic structure of the album. What a lovely piece of music it is, you might even want to put it on repeat after the first spin, as I did. In fact, “A Car To Remember” had an even better impression on me the first time I heard it. But it’s the type of thing you can take or leave, and I choose to take.
“All The mail Came To Neighbor” take a dip down to a lower place before coming together in the end and the song mostly serves as a bridge to the next one as the tension builds. More great piano playing with some strings attached here as well, keep it in tact for all it is worth. “Maybe I’ll Be There” answers back with some more excellent piano playing and Harper at his most vulnerable moment to get the emotion across. The end result is that he does get the emotion across and so much more.
If you are not a fan of folk music or singer/songwriter or piano music, Dirt Yard Street also has a smooth jazz vibe. “Come To My House” brings the album nearly to a close with an inviting door open to listen to music and have a peaceful time on what is another fantastic track. And you can’t miss the background noise, which I had to do a double take on. And “Somewhere There’s A Fire Waiting” stand on its own two feet as one of the album’s finest, with some banjo and more strings to give it a down home country feel that leaves you glad you heard it.
Levi Colston, approved by Sebastian Cole