Harry Coulson released his debut solo album ‘Blue Dogs’ on the 28th September and will support this with live shows around the country.
Harry Coulson’s got a thing about dogs. They turn up in both of his recent albums, and they represent something very specific and very personal to the Melbourne based guitarist and singer/songwriter.
“Dogs aren’t clever, nor are they particularly concerned with their appearance. Dogs are loyal by nature, yet vicious when they need to be. So I guess in this instance it stands for being scrappy yet adept, and loyal to your art and yourself.
Coulson has done some serious study in the musical arts, including a VCA Bachelor of Music Performance, Honours at Monash University, and stints at prestigious jazz workshops at NYU and Canada’s Banff Centre. He’s put that to good use, playing gigs tirelessly around the country, including an east coast tour and sets at the St Kilda Festival, Mornington Jazz Festival, Adelaide Fringe plus live-to- air performances on ABC radio.
Spend some time with Harry Coulson’s music and you’ll quickly get a sense of an authentic, unvarnished voice and an artist with no patience for over-produced sounds or overwrought lyrics. While earlier album Harry Coulson’s Rain Dogs was an engaging set of jazz instrumentals, the new album titled Harry Coulson’s Blue Dogs is chockful of larrikin poetry, brass driven soul and r’n’b, and Harry’s take-it- or-leave- it vocal delivery. ‘I don’t like how inoffensive music has gotten. I remember hearing a story about a movie director who would refuse to hire Hollywood actors because they’d had so much plastic surgery they couldn’t show any facial expressions. A lot of music these days seems to do the same, lots of production, effects, smoke and mirrors but not much substance”
The journey you take with Blue Dogs crosses diverse musical terrain – much of it rooted in the blues, with side trips through New Orleans second line rhythmic stomp (the cover of blues classic ‘Old Bill’), sparse confessionals (‘Apart Part 1’) and sinuous jazz-inflected grooves (‘Radio’).
Coulson happily plays off his impressive guitar chops (he cites Marc Ribot and Bill Frisell as inspiration) against the rougher edge of his vocal style. A fan of hip-hop from the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Jay-Z and Mos Def he weaves stream of consciousness lyrics that explore the ebb and flow of suburban life, frustrated ambitions and the fierce drive to not back down. Think Courtney Barnett or The Streets’ Mike Skinner with an Australian accent backed by a top notch r’n’b band.
Coulson’s dogs turn up everywhere throughout the album – ‘feeling like a dog about to get put down’ in ‘Let Ya Down’; in ‘Man Down’ he’s a ‘big black dog pulling on his chain’ and ‘Apart Part 2’ has him claiming ‘I’m just mongrel through and through’. It’s the stuff of the blues alright, or, as Coulson himself puts it ‘stories told the long way about lessons learnt the hard way’.
Coulson takes to the road this year to tour the new album – but don’t expect to hear note perfect renditions of the songs. As Harry says ‘I remember a teacher of mine once saying “if you think you’re working hard, work harder”. Albums are just a snapshot in time. If I’m playing these songs no better than I did on the recording in a years’ time from now, I’ve not been working hard enough’.
2016 Tour Dates
WEDNESDAY 28TH SEPTEMBER – CANBERRA
Hippo Bar, 1/17 Garema Pl, Canberra ACT 2601
Tickets at door: $5.00
FRIDAY 30TH SEPTEMBER – SYDNEY
Old Growler, 218 William St, Woolloomooloo NSW 2011
SATURDAY 1st OCTOBER – WOLLONGONG
Janes – 1/40-42 Flinders St, North Wollongong NSW
Doors Open: 7pm
Tickets at door: $5.00
FRIDAY 21ST OCTOBER – ADELAIDE
Hotel Elliot, Adelaide- 35 The Strand, Port Elliot SA
SATURDAY 5TH NOVEMBER – MELBOURNE
Rainbow Hotel – 27 St David St, Fitzroy VIC
FRIDAY 18TH NOVEMBER – ADELAIDE
Exeter Hotel, Adelaide – 152 Semaphore Rd, Exeter SA
SATURDAY 19TH NOVEMBER – MILDURA
The Corporate Moose – 72 Langtree Ave, Mildura VIC