Jason Hawk Harris hit rock bottom during the writing and recording of his debut full-length Love & the Dark. In the last few years, the Houston-born-and-raised, Los Angeles-based musician endured life-altering hardships—illness, death, familial strife, and addiction—yet from these trials, a luxuriant and confident vision of art country emerged.
Bloodshot first caught Jason at Folk Alliance in Kansas City in 2018, when he gave goosebumps to everyone within the dingy walls of a tiny hotel room with his evocative, powerful, and unrestrained live duo set. Later in the year, he opened up for our own Sarah Shook & the Disarmers on a run of tour dates, after which Sarah relayed her wholehearted approval. With an unlikely background, Harris is a singer/guitarist/songwriter who walks his own line, one that touches on Lyle Lovett’s lyrical frankness, John Moreland’s punk cerebralism and Judee Sill’s mysticism and orchestral sensibility. There’s even the literary and sonic audacity of an early Steve Earle, an outlaw unafraid to embrace harmony.
After writing thousands of measures of classical music, though, Harris found himself drawn back to the country, folk, and rock music that had soundtracked his early childhood. He'd grown up listening to classic crooners like Hank Williams, Roy Orbison, Jim Croce, Patsy Cline, and Elvis. Harris's music draws a distinct bridge between his country and classical roots and reaches far beyond rootsy influence. There are complex chords, acrobatic arrangements, and unexpected intervals, results of a stirring and compelling musical culture clash.
Jason’s grandfather exposed him to country music at an early age, and his family celebrated holidays with group sing-alongs. In his teens, Harris began listening to punk, indie rock, and, notably, Queen. In some part inspired by the instrumental flair of Freddie Mercury & Co., he later took the educational plunge into classical composition and was eventually wait-listed for the master’s program at UCLA, when things took a turn. While touring and performing in the indie folk band The Show Ponies, Jason started writing his own songs, intuitively returning to his country roots but incorporating his classical and rock ‘n’ roll performance skills. He released his first solo offering, the Formaldehyde, Tobacco and Tulips EP in 2017 and hit the road.
Meanwhile, his world fell apart: his mother died from complications of alcoholism; his father went bankrupt after being sued by the King of Morocco; his sister was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and gave birth to a premature son with cerebral palsy; and—subsequently—Jason got sidetracked by his own vices. While his music acknowledges mortality, pain, and hardship, it’s also Jason Hawk Harris’s way of working through it. Love & The Dark is a hypnotically convincing album; you can feel the unknown, but you need not fear it.