Review – Country Side of Harmonica Sam’s “Back to the Blue Side”

It seems somewhere between stupefyingly uncanny and outright implausible that the band that’s best suited to recreate the Golden Era of country music in the modern context is an outfit out of Sweden of all places. But this is the unequivocal conclusion you will come to when you give a listen to The Country Side of Harmonica Sam.

From the lyrics, to the music, to the production, and even the clothing and everything else in between, it’s like Harmonica Sam and his band walked straight out of a time portal from 1957, and straight into the hearts of classic country fans who love to hearken back to a more pure time in their favorite genre of music.

On their fourth album called Back To The Blue Side, The Country Side of Harmonica Sam leaves jaws on the ground, boots shuffling across the floor, and hearts filled with a host of classic country songs that prove beyond any reasonable doubt that the sentiments found in classic country about love and heartbreak are truly timeless.

They’re sure to impress you with their interpretations of country music in the past tense, but these songs are not reenactments. Sure, there are couple of covers and classics like “Has Anybody Seen Me Lately” written by Harland Howard and popularized by Hank Cochran. But part of the genius of Harmonica Sam is writing and finding new original songs that slip right into the time period they evoke like they were penned 70 years ago.

To accomplish this, the band paired with another remarkable throwback country performer from Europe in the form of French native Theo Lawrence, who Saving Country Music featured via his recent album Chérie earlier this year. Another guy whose knack for penning country classics is Austin’s Jake Penrod, and he also contributes a couple of tracks to Back To The Blue Side.

It’s a song like “I’ve Overstayed My Welcome In Your Heart” written by regular Harmonica Sam contributor Dan Englund that mesmerize you with its simple sentiments so perfectly encapsulated. This album is full of these kinds of songs. They found another great one called “I’m Not Supposed To Love You” from a songwriter outside of Houston, TX named Betty Jean Lewis that has been writing since the ’70s but is just now finding a band to perform her songs.

But none of these songs would feel so alive if it wasn’t for the treatment this band brings to them. Along with Harmonica Sam who sings these compositions exquisitely, steel guitarist Peter Andersson and lead guitarist Johan Bandling Melin can go up against any of their peers Stateside, and bass player Ulrik Jansson and drummer Patrik Malmros are equally dialed into the classic country sound.

The Country Side of Harmonica Sam is a modern musical marvel that proves no matter who you are or where you’re from, the love of country music can find its way into your heart. The love of classic country music will find its way into your heart through Back To The Blue Side.


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