Album Review: Matt Harlan "Tips & Compliments"

If Chris Knight had a son with Lucinda Williams, he might - just might - turn out to be as good a musician as Boerne, Texas native Matt Harlan. That's a high compliment, but Matt Harlan's new release "Tips & Compliments" deserves all of the accolades it can collect.
The album begins with the Americana gem "Elizabethtown." The lyrics and music penetrate the soul and build to a rousing chorus. The next track, "Skinny Trees Of Mississippi," proves to be a winning demonstration of Harlan's significant vocal chops. Like Chris Knight, Harlan paints a full and complete picture of his surroundings, thoughts and feelings in his accomplished lyrics.

Traditional country music is well represented with the stellar "Something New," "Over The Bridge" and "Warm November." Of the three, "Over The Bridge" has the best chance to be a major Texas country chart hit. Harlan's vocals fire on all cylinders, and the instrumentation is perfect. Texas radio program directors should add this song to their playlists immediately. The title track "Tips And Compliments" could also prove to be a popular radio single.

The most bluesy track on the album is the appropriately-titled "Suitcase Blues." It is followed by the best track on the album "Driving Song." Harlan's vocal performance oozes sincerity for the woman he loves. "Everybody Else" is a classic singer-songwriter cut that could easily find a home on Sirius-XM's The Loft.

"Waiting For Godot" is a winning mixture of country, folk and bluegrass, and listeners should take special notice of the reflective "Walter." The best pure country folk track is the remarkably serene "You're Just Drunk," which might have the best lyrics of any cut on the album. The project ends with the heartfelt love song "Dresses."

Matt Harlan's "Tips & Compliments" is an Americana gem that heralds the arrival of a major new music talent. In almost an hour, Matt Harlan shares the most intimate and interesting portions of his life in a musical package that deserves a wide audience. Matt Harlan certainly deserves a big heaping plate of compliments for his new album, and hopefully he'll be rewarded with a overloaded pocket full of tips, too.