This 30-year-old singer-guitarist-songwriter came up through the Manhattan (dub scene in the '80s, and his debut album features appearances by nearly everyone he met along the way, from members of unheralded local bands to such notables as Richard Thompson and the Proclaimers.
This lineup makes for a rollicking party atmosphere at times, as on the aptly named rocker "Raise the Roof," bill Harford also has a pronounced reflective streak. At least half the songs are from the heart, such as the acoustic, Dylan-esque "You Know Me the Best" or "Blanket of Snow," a lovely, countrified slow dance dominated by piano and slide guitar.
Stylistically, Harford is a unitarian. You can hear echoes of Hoboken pop and Television-era CBGB's, of Big Star and Neil Young. But in the end he's an unabashed rocker, enthralled by the sound of I lie electric guitar, be it thick, distorted, deliberated chords or hard-charging, blues-rock leads. Like Matthew Sweet, who also had a recent breakthrough record, Harford is a versatile artist who's not afraid to cut loose. (Elektra)