12 Songs, 48 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

The noble tradition of the Texas folk troubadour is upheld and extended on Matt Harlan’s third album, Raven Hotel. Named Singer-Songwriter of the Year in 2013, Harlan has an old-soul vocal style reminiscent of Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, and similar Lone Star bards. Raven Hotel's tracks—coproduced by Harlan with Rich Brotherton, a.k.a. Robert Earl Keen—are rendered with finesse by an assortment of local players, including keyboardist Bukka Allen, violinist Maddy Brotherton, and harmonica player (and longtime Willie Nelson sideman) Mickey Raphael. With a short story writer’s feel for character and place, Harlan fills “Old Spanish Moss,” “We Never Met (The Time Machine)," and “Second Gear” with finely detailed depictions of loss, regret, and acceptance. The musician’s life is a rich vein for him; witness “Rearview Display,” “The Optimist,” and the title tune. “Old Allen Road” is a particular showpiece for Harlan’s gift for narrative. Matt passes the vocal mic to wife Rachael Jones for the wistful “Riding with the Wind” and duets with her on the nostalgic “Slow Moving Train.” “Half Developed Song” and “Rock & Roll” increase the grit quotient.

EDITORS’ NOTES

The noble tradition of the Texas folk troubadour is upheld and extended on Matt Harlan’s third album, Raven Hotel. Named Singer-Songwriter of the Year in 2013, Harlan has an old-soul vocal style reminiscent of Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, and similar Lone Star bards. Raven Hotel's tracks—coproduced by Harlan with Rich Brotherton, a.k.a. Robert Earl Keen—are rendered with finesse by an assortment of local players, including keyboardist Bukka Allen, violinist Maddy Brotherton, and harmonica player (and longtime Willie Nelson sideman) Mickey Raphael. With a short story writer’s feel for character and place, Harlan fills “Old Spanish Moss,” “We Never Met (The Time Machine)," and “Second Gear” with finely detailed depictions of loss, regret, and acceptance. The musician’s life is a rich vein for him; witness “Rearview Display,” “The Optimist,” and the title tune. “Old Allen Road” is a particular showpiece for Harlan’s gift for narrative. Matt passes the vocal mic to wife Rachael Jones for the wistful “Riding with the Wind” and duets with her on the nostalgic “Slow Moving Train.” “Half Developed Song” and “Rock & Roll” increase the grit quotient.

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