Presumably, the "you" Josh Harty addresses in his low-down anti-love song "Long Time Coming Down" is a woman. But really it could be anyone with whom the veteran singer-songwriter has tried and failed to cement an honest relationship. That's part of the power of this artfully ambiguous country-folk tune, a highlight of his new album A Long List of Lies. Even after Harty has tired of waiting and decides to move on, it's unclear exactly what he's left behind.
Such is the strength of his smooth, world-weary baritone voice that the listener doesn't really care. One thing is plain: Harty's been left waiting one too many times.
In some ways, both Harty's ominous baritone and the up-tempo snare work that powers the tune along at a brisk clip, recall some of Rodney Crowell's less pop-oriented material. However, Harty, who hails from North Dakota, doesn't have Crowell's ironical Texas sensibility. Instead of suggesting his state of mind with some well chosen details, Harty lays bare the essential conflict of the lyrics straight away, and asks anyone who dares to feel the existential ache of his disappointment and frustration.
A lot of singers can't pull off that kind of unmediated honesty. Fact is, they don't have the richness of character or depth of soul or whatever it is that makes you want to crawl up close to the emotional core of a musical performance. But Harty has it, and if you let him he'll stroke every bruised emotion and baleful thought that's ever touched your troubled mind. I've said it before and I'll say it again: The pros in Austin and Nashville have nothing on this guy.
An MP3 of the track is available in the related downloads at right. More songs by the singer-songwriter can be listened to on his MySpace page. Josh Harty will celebrate A Long List of Lies with a CD release party featuring opener Dietrich Gosser and guests Blake Thomas, Nick Eberhardt, and Chris Sassman at Café Montmartre on Friday, September 5.
MadTracks highlights and provides MP3s of songs performed by local musicians. All tracks here are provided with permission of the artist. If you are a musician based in the Madison metro area and are interested in sharing your work as a MadTrack, please send a message.