Harripaul - Live Your Life

A solo artist from the age of 17, Roger John Harripaul has been touring and releasing records for a number of years. Inspired by the likes of Robert Cray and Mark Knopfler, he has gone through a number of guises - performing in band ACR, then solo under the name Ikeya. It was as Ikeya that saw him release his debut album, and tour as support for the artist Roachford. He has also toured in his own right, in the both the UK and Germany, and now under the name Harripaul releases this collection of 11 self penned and self produced songs.

Enlisting the talents of Henley Simpson on bass and Paul Griffiths on drums, the album was recorded at Britannia Row studios in London. The sound of the album is not particularly modern - at times slightly muted and maybe even a little flat in places. There is no technical wizardry on display here - the songs sound very much as if they were recorded live, with few overdubs and tweaks.

This maybe then is one of the drawbacks to this release. It has a very 80's sound, the sort of production that may have been acceptable on a Level 42 album two decades ago but doesn't really cut the mustard now. The best way to describe Harripaul is like this - you know how occasionally in programmes like Casualty, or Holby City, when all the doctors and nurses go out for the night to some grown-up club where people in suits are all milling around listening to a band. Well, Harripaul sound like that kind of band - a slightly over exuberant, glossy soft rock band that junior doctors can let their hair down to.

The songs though are on the whole pretty good. Should I is a passionate piece, full of heartfelt lyrics and a light touch. Cry is also a cut above the others, with some excellent bass and gentle acoustic before shifting pace into a nice guitar piece. Stand out track is the album closer So!, a deft piece of song writing, very much from the heart with a smooth vocal performance. Sound of Creation is also a powerful piece, again with some pretty good guitar playing (something it shares with Someone to Lean On) but with a booming vocal that threatens to drown the song at times. And Where There is a Will is a spirited track that bounces along quite happily with a spring in its step.

Other songs though do let the album down. Rain is a mixture of lots of different songs all mashed together, a real contender for the nurse’s disco. Song 4 U is also very ordinary, the production very flat, the guitar sounding extremely thin and weak in the mix. Opening track Live Your Life suffers in the same way, coming across as far to old fashioned.

All in all, this is a reasonable collection of songs, let down by a rather lack lustre production. There is clearly real ability here, but maybe time for Harripaul to hand over production duties to someone else next time. As an album though, it hangs together well, and shows a fair amount of promise.

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