Personnel: Jochem van der Saag (programming).
Recording information: Abbey Road Studios; Angel Studios, London, UK; Blue Studios; Chartmaker Studios; LAFX, CA; Sycamore Studios.
Photographer: Joseph Llanes.
Irish crooner Keith Harkin makes his solo debut with his 2012 eponymous album. A member of the all-male variety show Celtic Thunder, Harkin has showcased his laid-back vocal style across the globe, and his debut release fits well into the show's template. While he is a singer/songwriter in his own right, here Harkin focuses primarily on cover songs that make the most of his naturally burnished vocal twang and romantic surfer-dude persona. These are slick, expertly produced songs that walk a fine line between adult contempo, modern country, and Celtic-inspired pop music, with an obvious emphasis on 2010s-style radio-friendly production. Such cuts as Harkin's duet with Colbie Caillat on Van Morrison's "Have I Told You Lately That I Love You," his reverent take on the Fred Neil-penned Harry Nilsson classic "Everybody's Talkin'," and especially his rambling version of the Beatles' "Here Comes the Sun" should appeal to fans of current Top 40. Often compared to the similarly mellow Jack Johnson, Harkin's own compositions, like the lighthearted "Orange Moon" and the uplifting "Take It Away Boys," actually have a bit more of a country vibe, and in that sense bring to mind the crossover stylings of artists like Keith Urban and Lady Antebellum. Ultimately, Harkin has a pleasant voice, and the easygoing quality of these productions makes for relaxing afternoon listening. ~ Matt Collar