Joel Harrison

The Other River
(Whirlwind Recordings)

There’s a reason why the booklet that accompanies veteran guitarist Joel Harrison’s The Other River includes song lyrics. The album gives us a good listen to Harrison the singer, who composes with what seems like a different voice for each song.

Harrison takes advantage of a core group with keyboardist Glenn Patscha, bassist Byron Isaacs and drummer Jordan Perlson, adding special guests on percussion (Jamey Haddad), strings (Christian Howes), voice (Fiona McBain), trumpet (Cuong Vu) and sarode (Anupam Shobhakar), an Indian stringed instrument. The arrangements are unique on each song, giving color and texture along the way.

Varied, intimate emotions course through The Other River, Harrison singing he “will not give in to despair” one moment, confessing “you’re what matters to me” to that special someone the next. And then there’s the mystery imbuing the title track, and a life filled with “ecstatic poems,” “a world gone wrong” but ultimately “such peace ... in the other river.”

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