The third generation of musicians out of the Dakotas, Josh Harty is never far from his roots but always inventing new ways to honor the old. His latest solo project, “A Long List of Lies” (Magnolia Recording Co.) shows it and has garnered a fast following. The eleven tracks are as authentic as American music gets. Maybe that’s why “A Long List of Lies” debuted at number 8 on the European Americana chart.
Growing up the son of a North Dakota Police Chief and preacher, Harty figured he was either going to jail or going to hell. He was wrong on both fronts and his gentle nature reveals this to all who know him. He’s got gratitude written all over him, including thankfulness for the music his father gave him.
By the age of 10 Harty had sung gospel and country with his father at “just about every Lutheran Church, Eagles Club, and Senior Citizen Center in North and South Dakota.” By age 12 Harty had made two records with his dad, collectively selling 10,000 copies.
These days the 33-year-old Madison-based artist writes and performs mostly solo but has a knack for surrounding himself with some of the best musicians in the Midwest for his recordings. Still, these are Harty’s songs all the way. “A Long List of Lies” was produced, recorded and mastered in Madison’s Smart Studios. The project captures Harty’s clean guitar attack, a finger style that glistens with a razor’s edge. Every track is filled with the honesty of an artist who’s in it for the long haul, who’s writing music that channels his past while re- setting the present for what’s affectionately called alt-country in the U.S.A.
. . . Harty has a warm, intimate performance style. You can ease into his songs from the first note and his voice has that perfect combination of resignation and hope. The songs are all downbeat, even mournful, and Harty’s performances are utterly convincing, whether on the doom-laden “Whiskey & Morphine”, the more upbeat tune (but downbeat lyrics) of “Sweet Solution“. . .Jeremy Searle, Americana UK, 2011
“The first thing that hits you is Harty’s world weary voice on Whiskey & Morphine as a song that talks of self-destruction and sets the tone for what is to come. . . Harty draws you into his songs and you are a part of his world”…Stephen Rapid, Lonesome Highway, 2011
“I reckon this’ll be the third album for Wisconsin native Josh Harty. Coming from an intensely musical background, he seems to have been playing and performing most of his 30-odd years and his fluency on the acoustic guitar is a testament to all those years of playing. As a songwriter, I would say he’s striving to be as honest, as true to an emotion, as he can possibly get. . . there is a dignity to this music making that leaves us feeling enriched for the experience”. . .John Davy, No Depression, 2011
“It’s been a long time coming but well worth the wait.
Josh , Josh- where have you been? We’ve been waiting for you. We need someone with songs that help us heal. At last you’ve arrived and thank the Lord for that.
This is Harty’s second album (“A Long List of Lies”), arriving six years after his debut “Three Day Notice”. . .his second feels like a long lost friend has arrived home after being away for far too long. Someone with whom you can pick up things immediately despite the intervening years of absence. This album provides that sort of familiarity and intimacy. Apparently this album went through a number of different recording stages, and producers, until Harty was happy with it, but he’s produced something he can be proud of, and the angst he experienced was worthwhile”…Americana UK, 2009
“North Dakotan Josh Harty made his singer-songwriter name in Madison, Wisconsin’s thriving folk scene with his appealing, sympathetic vocal, comfortingly reminiscent of Gordon Lightfoot, and expert guitar style that sets you immediately at ease. Unadorned and honest, his writing on this album (“A Long List of Lies”) is informed and knowledgeable way beyond his years, skilled in honouring what’s gone before whilst sounding absolutely of today and his stories are simple, believable- this guys knows his stuff. . .Like most good things, it’s best to spend quality time getting familiar with these songs that exist in the twilight hours of isolation where they know the broken, the broke and the heart-broken by their first names. File this, after you’ve bought it, under premier league alt-country Americana- a superb album”…Peter Innes, Allgigs.co.uk, 2009