FOLLOWING last year’s rather lovely album for Dear Life, Alrightnik, Nashville’s guitar essayist Josh Halper has decided to reprise the closing track visually.
He’s released a brilliantly conceived and funny short film to accompany that tune, “Honest Feeling” – you can watch it below.
By way of introduction and self-summation he says, an eyebrow arched: “I was raised in Tennessee by a Jewish New York Deadhead.” – which seems to encapsulate a little of the wry humour and musicianship he brings to Alrightnik.
He’s a classically trained guitarist who studied at Belmont University in his home town; cut his teeth playing in bands such as Big Surr, Western Medication and Honey Locust, and has cultivated quite the rep as a go-to hired gun of the guitar.
It’s a helluva pretty country-rock record, majoring on his guitar chops, be that crisp arpeggio or warm slide, all shot through with lyrical whimsy. It even has a faithful salute of a Randy Newman cover in the shape of “Dayton, Ohio 1903.”
It has fingerpicking instrumentals to delight those of us who go tripping out in the Bert Jansch and William Tyler nexus; sadness, as with the track “Whale In A Field,” a raw retelling of the melancholy Josh felt during a long, isolating year after an arrest.
In the video for “Honest Feeling”, Josh retreats to the backwoods, in his emotionally bruised mancave; lets the song, a little cracker of Americana and alt.country, ring out as he’s out with his rod. Which, this side of the pond, takes on an unwitting extra sweetness and connotation on the back of Mortimer & Whitehouse: Gone Fishing.
The album’s title, Alrightnik, is an American-Yiddish slang term for a successful person, but of the nouveau kind: a little garish; arriviste. But, be glad Josh has arrived.
Josh Halper’s Alrightnik is available now from Dear Life digitally, on cassette and on CD; you can go get one at the label’s Bandcamp page, here.