Do you run from shame, or does shame chase you, pushing you towards the nebulous void of self-forgiveness?
The St. Louis native country singer-songwriter uses his commanding voice to wield his captivating lyrics with accessible melodies that, he hopes, anyone can enjoy. And if you fancy yourself a country music fan, enjoy you will.
Harbison draws his influences and inspirations from the beating heartland of America, leading the listener through a spring of the soul, where mistakes melt from the fire of forgiveness. These ideas are immediately established in the first track of Shades of Green, “Shame, Shame, Shame.”
You can hear Harbison grapple with the past as he sings, “No matter how I try / After all of this time / This debt I just can’t seem to pay / Oh shame, shame, shame.” With these lyrics come shoulder-bouncing acoustic guitar melodies with some brassy country twang, and an unmistakably booming voice.
The next track, “Humble Pie,” continues the story of guilt. “When you tell the truth less than you lie / Get yourself a spoon of humble pie,” he sings. The music alone may remind one of a line-dancing number, but listening to the lyrics you realize there’s much more at stake. Harbison manages to infuse profundity with playfulness, and it works.
His self-proclaimed influences of Bob Dylan and Jim Croce can be heard throughout the album. They’re heard especially in the last, wrap-up track, “When That Train Leaves the Station.” It’s much slower-paced than the rest of the album, anchored by synthy electric keys that make the song feel galactic. Here, he submits to his pain, and knows where to look: the future.