BIG HARP – Chain Letters

Album: Chain Letters

Artist: Big Harp

Label: Saddle Creek

Release Date: January 22, 2013



For their second album, Big Harp (Chris Senseney and Stefanie Drootin-Senseney) have amped up their sound while maintaining their unadorned, stripped staple of bluesy, country-folk. Chain Letters’ opening tracks “You Can’t Save Them All” — which has an uncharacteristically upbeat and positive ambience to juxtapose the title — and “Waiting for Some Drunk” do little to snare you.


Yet the tone changes and the album is reenergized with next number, the not quite two minute “Some People Are Born Stage.” The great, rattling track, which ends far too soon, introduces Chris’ soulfully ragged vocals as they are slowly accompanied by a sparse piano, rolling drums and bells. The short song perfectly complements Chris’ sluggish vocal styling and leads listeners into the new sonic direction of Chain Letters. Lyricism continues to be a major strength of Big Harp as they weave a new tale with each song. From shedding ones arrogance through difficult times, “Outside in the Snow,” to a drifter who leaves a trail of heartache in “It’s Easy to Be Strange” they cover an array of emotions in one album.


And of course they smartly “play” with their words; “Good News” picks up the pace and edge of the album as Chris delivers the religiously overtoned good news with the chorus “Ain’t no place nowhere/Ain’t no sky, just dirt.” “Bar All the Doors,” “No Trouble At All,” “It’s Easy to Be Strange” are also notable tracks. Chain Letters is a solid album and Big Harp brilliantly adds to the growing plethora of artists crafting stark, raw music that strikes the core.


DOWNLOAD: “Good News,” “Bar All the Doors”  -APRIL S. ENGRAM