It’s almost eighteen months since I was first introduced to the music of Mark Harrison.
At that time, I’d been given Mark’s 2014 release The World Outside to review.
I’ve been hooked ever since!
Unfortunately, I missed Mark’s visit to Glasgow back in January when he performed as part of the Celtic Connections festival.
On The Chicken Sandwich Train, a live album, recorded as part of Acoustic Roots at Wigan Parish Church on 17 April 2015, is Mark’s fourth release.
Live albums are a bit of a love/hate thing for music fans. Some people love them; some people loathe them. Me- I love them!
Listening to this almost makes up for missing the Glasgow show!
This fourteen song record is interspersed with a handful of “stories”, little insights into the story behind the song and little insights into the gentle, dry humour of this talented performer.
The album opens with Big Mama’s House, from The World Outside. This is possibly the quirkiest start to a set being played in a church! Love it!
Mark has a beautifully subtle finger-picking style that sparkles throughout this entire album. Playing either his 12 string or his 1934 National, he’s equally at home creating his distinctive soundscapes.
In the past, Mark has been accompanied by a variety of equally talented musicians. On this outing, the lucky gentleman is Charles Benfield on double bass and additional vocals. He compliments Mark perfectly.
I’m not about to go through On The Chicken Sandwich Train track by track…or should that be carriage by carriage?. That’s a journey I’d strongly encourage you to buy a ticket (CD) for and enjoy at your leisure.
Even to pick out the highlights here was a challenge. Long Gone Miles and Panic Attack, both from The World Outside, stand out for me. Crematorium Blues from Crooked Smile is instantly toe-tapping but also subtly different in style to many of the other tracks. Love Your Second Line, again taking this musical journey down another track.
One of the main attractions for me to Mark’s music is his ability as a songwriter. His musicianship is beyond question but as a songwriter he’s fantastic. This album echoes with fresh, vibrant lyrics that tell stories, several of which hark back to days gone by as do a lot of his musical influences, but it all sounds as fresh and new as if it were penned only this morning. That’s a rare talent that comes straight from the soul.
This album finishes with Georgia Greene, another finger clicking, toe tapping tune. Perhaps it’s the edit of this record, but where’s the audience? I’d have loved to hear a bit more passion from them here.
Normally it’s the 5:25 to Glasgow I’d be boarding but I’m very pleased to have journeyed On The Chicken Sandwich Train.
Fantastic musical journey.
Who knows, if and when Mark returns to Glasgow, I may yet board the 5:25 to see his show.
Oh, and if you want to know the story behind the Chicken Sandwich train, buy the album! You won’t regret it.
Photo of Mark Harrison -credits to the owner Mal Whichelow