Well, hasn’t Harker has been a busy boy recently! Having already put two tracks towards a split with Dave Hughes and Emma Hallows, he’s also managed to put out a new three-track EP. Loyal Than Most/Lights Off is a really honest release from the Brighton-based singer/songwriter, and makes for a fantastic introduction for the uninitiated out there.
It’s clear from the beginning that Harker isn’t afraid to wear his influences on his sleeve. Both of his original tracks are very clearly influenced by the likes of Brian Fallon (in particular, The Gaslight Anthem) and Chuck Ragan. From the gravelly vocals, to the subject matter, everything here feels somewhat tainted (not in a bad way), by those two guys. That being said, don’t go thinking they’re generic. They’re far from it, but I reckon you’d be able to guess a few of the records in this guy’s collection.
‘Loyal Than Most’ is certainly the best of the two tracks. It’s got a very folky feel to it, but still has that fight and desperation of a good punk song. Finding a balance between those two genre’s is no easy feat, but Harker manages it with ease. His vocals towards the end have this ‘shouting at the heavens’ kind of feel to them, that only increases the tone of desperation in the track, and makes for a sure fire sing-along when played live.
Second track, ‘Lights Off’ swaps folk for country and, whilst it’s still good, it doesn’t have that special something that grabbed me like the opener. The subtle addition of piano certainly makes it the most instrumentally interesting, but the gang vocals sounded a little flat and didn’t really work for me. It also feels like it’s missing a couple of verses. I really like the theme he’s going for, but it feels like there should be more to it.
A rendition of Jawbreaker’s ‘Do You Still Hate Me?’ rounds out the EP, and the Brightonian’s gravelly vocals work perfectly with the track. The whole EP has a ‘punk goes acoustic’ feel to it, and that’s exactly what this is. Like the opener his powerful vocals really shine through. This makes the lyrics really hit home, something that’s imperative when it comes to a song like this. Not only that, but the track fits thematically within the EP, which never does any harm.
Harker is treading a fine line with this EP. His influences really shine through, and that could really put some people off. However, I think he’s managed to create something that will endear him to the audience that he himself is a part of. ‘Loyal Than Most’ is a real standout, and he does a damn fine Jawbreaker cover. I just wish there was a little more to that second track.