Things That I Like
Bluegrass music veteran Mickey Harris (see Bluegrass Unlimited, August 2022) has recently released a new solo album titled Things That I Like. After listening to the album, I decided that in terms of bluegrass singing, instrumentation, arrangements, musicians and song selection, Mickey and I like the same things. It is a wonderful album stem to stern.
Harris, who has released a half-dozen solo recordings over the years, has a bluegrass lead singing voice on par with any male lead singer in bluegrass music. His regular job—playing bass and singing with Rhonda Vincent—does not afford him the opportunity to sing a lot of lead vocals, but had he not decided to be a member of Rhonda’s Rage, he easily has the talent to be leading his own bluegrass band.
Having spent decades performing and recording bluegrass music, it is no surprise that on this album Mickey displays that he knows how it is supposed to be done. One of the many things that I love about this recording is the song selection. Mickey provides the listener with hard driving traditional style songs, a few slower songs, an instrumental tune, a few progressive numbers, and a bit of gospel. Although the album offers a good variety, it still feels very cohesive.
For the supporting musicians on this recording, Mickey turned to the people he knows best—his Rhonda Vincent & The Rage bandmates. Rhonda sings harmony vocal on eight of the thirteen cuts and she sings lead on the song made famous in 1966 by Nancy Sinatra, “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’.” Mickey’s other bandmates—Hunter Berry (fiddle), Aaron McDaris (banjo), Jeff Partin (Dobro), and Zack Arnold (guitar, mandolin and harmony vocal) appear on every cut save the great Jim Van Cleve appearing on fiddle instead of Hunter on three of the songs. Two other songs do not include a fiddle player at all. Mickey’s thirteen-year-old son Jackson also joins in singing bass vocal on a gospel tune.
In addition to playing the acoustic bass and singing lead vocals, Mickey demonstrates his songwriting talents as well, having written or co-written three of the selections on this recording—“Heartbreakin’ Old Achin’ Blues,” the instrumental “Dreaming in Minors,” and a gospel song “God Is Watching.” There are a few songs on this album that you don’t usually hear in the bluegrass context—the aforementioned “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’,” James Taylor’s “You Can Close Your Eyes,” Buddy Holly’s “Well All Right,” the Sawyer Brown hit “The Dirt Road,” and Alabama’s “Close Enough To Perfect.” However, Mickey and the band spread bluegrass all over these tunes. Songs more familiar to bluegrass fans include the classic “All I Ever Loved Was You,” and the Tim O’Brien and Pat Alger song “Like I Used To Do.” Two of the albums strongest cuts are the title cut “Things That I Like” and the first single “Tractor For Sale.”
I predict that fans of both traditional and contemporary bluegrass music will love this album. To purchase, visit mickeyharrismusic.com