Review: Billy Harvey Memorializes Bassist Friend George Reiff with ‘The Arsonist’




By DONNA BALANCIA

Billy Harvey took a sad time in his life and turned it into a collaborative work that will be remembered for years to come. The Arsonist, released today, is an achievement on many levels.

“I started recording this record in December 2016,” Harvey recalled. “My good friend and collaborator George Reiff was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, and expressed to me that he wanted to make as much music as possible in the time he might have left.”

So Harvey responded to his friend’s wishes.

“I booked a few days in a studio in Austin Texas, and we recorded some songs I was feeling particularly connected to,” he said. “We cut the songs live, and George (a bass player) was as good as I had ever heard him. Our mutual friend Conrad Choucroun was the perfect complement on drums.”

From 'The Arsonist' - Photo courtesy of Billy Harvey
From ‘The Arsonist’ – Photo courtesy of Billy Harvey

 

‘Labor of Love’

Harvey said it took a while to come to terms with his feelings of loss. 

“After George’s passing I sat on the recordings because they were just too difficult to hear,” Harvey said. “For the last four months I have been working on the record non-stop. It may be the best thing I have ever done, and to say that it is a labor of love is the greatest of understatements.” 

In addition to working with The Reluctant Apostles, Harvey has worked with some of the best in the rock-Americana genre and beyond, including Patty Griffin, Bob Schneider, The Courtyard Hounds, Charlie Mars, Slaid Cleaves and Steve Poltz.

But what makes his new music a departure it’s a category Harvey calls new wave Americana. Also known as alt-Americana, it’s a part of a growing trend in music that basically covers the modern sound of folk-coiuntry and gives it a modern spin.

 

Billy Harvey and Talented Musicians Team Up

Harvey and his talented crew of musicians take simple thoughts we all have and give them life beyond the “everyman” day to day. Standout songs on the record include the romantic “Green Love,” the upbeat “Home Run to You,” the funky “Givin’ You Sugar,” and the title track, “The Arsonist.”

“The song ‘The Arsonist” is about feeling stuck and feeling self-destructive either by nature or as a result of conditions,” Harvey said. 

Credits on The Arsonist: Audley Freed (Sheryl Crow, Kid Rock); Michael Ramos (John Mellencamp, Patty Griffin, Violent Femmes); George Reiff (Joe Walsh, Chris Robinson); Conrad Choucroun (White Denim, NRBQ, Charlie Sexton); John Ginty (Citizen Cope, Wu Tang Clan, Dixie Chicks); Josh Block (White Denim, Leon Bridges); David Boyle (Edie Brickell, Shawn Colvin); Darin Murphy (Cotton Mather)

Watch the video for The Arsonist here:

Track List for The Arsonist

The Arsonist

Cool Boy

Do Nothing

Don’t Say Goodbye

Family Tree

Green Love

Home Run To You

Simple Song

Givin’ You Sugar

Tattoo

Pretty All The Time