Long-time Missoula guitarist and songwriter Andrea Harsell has a new album of originals out, lighting it up with a top-shelf trio called Luna Roja. It’s Antonio Alvarez, drums, Nicklaus Hamburg, lead guitar, and Mike Hendy, bass. Harsell plays rhythm guitar this time around, and melts the turntable with her gritty, sensuous vocals and impeccable control.
Guest musicians on some cuts include Harsell’s daughter, Leia Sky, background vocals, Stephen Inglis, lead guitar, and Carla Green, bass. Engineer Ryan “Schmed” Maynes adds guitar, keys, and bass, too.
The result is a terrific assortment of rock styles spotlighting searing guitar solos, crisp percussion, and lock-tight rhythms. The musician’s raw emotional delivery, in a seasoned, malleable alto that’s worldly-wise yet warm and sweet, endows her songs with honesty. She sings of heartache and loss, finding love and losing it, and just plain “don’t tread on me” sassiness.
Harsell dedicated the album to her sister, who passed away last summer. The title song reflects that loss. It’s a spooky rocker in a minor key with a pensive extended guitar solo; Harsell sings of “shadows and secrets” and “twisting fate.”
Reverbnation names Joan Jett, Bonnie Raitt, and KT Tunstall among Harsell’s influences. I hear others, too. On “Hard Times,” a blues ballad about a difficult relationship, Harsell shows a slight Rosanne-Cash country inflection that, as the song builds, transforms into a guttural Janis Joplin lament, raspy and powerful as emotion overtakes her. It’s cleansing and compelling. There’s a fiery guitar interlude, too. Yow!
On the swampy bayou rocker, “Singles,” Harsell finger-wags her way through a conversation as she sings “Slow down, I think you’re movin’ too fast …” She stretches out “around” on “I’ll be ‘arow-ow-ound,’” à la Amy Winehouse. I like it!
Influences have given Harsell’s voice many facets. What comes out is pure Andrea. And Luna Roja is the perfect complement, balancing her passion with their energy. Get this one!
Visit the artist at www.andreaharsell.com.
– Mariss McTucker