By: Dan Brisebois

Now calling Calgary home, Darren Harmon’s debut album captures one of Alberta’s most versatile artists at its best. A mix of progressive guitar chords in an intricately woven package with well-thought out and meaninful lyrics makes it a winner on several levels.

Released in 2010, Chris Omartion and Don Somerville were the production team on his debut, and JUST PRESS PLAY is more than the album’s name. It’s a simple instruction manual and guide to a mix of several genres, moods, and atmospheres in one neat 11-track package. A funky bass solo leads into the title track – a catchy heavy number that reminds you of something in the line of Danko Jones or Rob Zombie. From there the criss-cross of styles continues, although in the same vein.

Presumably on purpose, “Magnum Force” borrows from the “Magnum PI Theme.” But it’s a whole lot heavier with funky searing guitar work, and cleverly done. With “Excuses,” Darren tones it down with a heavy acoustic guitar undertone, but turning it up for the chorus makes it an intriguing listen. Add the slick inclusion of bongos and other less traditional effects, and this is an overall well-produced and good album.

“Goodbye Me” is the token power ballad, and is a natural for radio. “Red,” “Agony of Deceit” and the title track hold their own on an overall good record on their own merit. But you’ll have your favourites. With as good an overall project as JUST PRESS PLAY is, it’s only natural.