Anyone who knows and has followed Al Harlow for 40 or more years might be thinking Al Harlow At Last.
Instead of getting the Harlow album they were long expecting, they’re getting Now, unbelievably Al’s first solo album. A lot can be read into an album called Now, sometimes a covert admission that something is wrong, sometimes a declaration that the act is still on top of what is happening (now), sometimes the beginning of a new chapter or sometimes a reflection of the experiences that has brought him – Harlow – this far.
There is all of this in Al Harlow Now but more of the last.
He has known success, had a religious conversion, withstood a crumbling marriage and is the only remainder of the Prism line-up that people remember as Al, Lindsay Mitchell, Rocket Norton, Ron Tabak and John Hall. There also have been side projects of varying worth and many compromises as the eventual leader of Prism.
Through it all, Al has retained his style, influences and attitude, which is why people might have been waiting for him to make an album that reflects his character which Now almost does. It isn’t a celebration of freedom but a thoughtful assessment of what has brought him to Now..
The album starts off with Let It Go, which acts as an address, a note to himself and has a rock and roll vitality that is encouraging.
He Doesn’t Live Here Anymore has a blues-rock grit that might recall The Beatles’ Come Together and is a reminder that Al is an accomplished guitarist. It’s also the first song to address the end of his marriage with a palpable anger.
Conversely, Meet You In The Sky speaks of Hope for both him and wife Leah, and, possibly, God’s word.
I Believe The pedal steel is a nice departure in is like Let It Go as it has that energy while making a declaration.
Al sings Lonely Town with a girlish tenor – almost falsetto – that is moving and suggests attention to the variety and effectiveness of the vocals.
The pedal steel on Rising Sun is more about adding a textural departure from the pop/rock of the album. Rising Sun can be heard as Rising Son, a religious conscience that governs the record.
The first indication of Harlow’s early 80s orientation is My Mind Is Running Away With You. Here, the Prism of See Forever Eyes mees Bryan Adams.
Like Rising Son, If It Wasn’t For You is ambivalent enough to be both alove song and a dedication to God.
All of this is tied up in Way Of The World, an affecting statement with an optimistic philosophy. It sort of bookends anlbum that started with Let It Go.
If this is Al Harlow Now, it is the portrait of an older rocker who has survived and has earned some freedom.