After last year’s success of The Great Country Songbook, his platinum-selling collaborative album with Australian country star Troy Cassar-Daley, enduring artist Adam Harvey has recorded his twelfth album. Family Life is a collection of the personal narratives, life experiences and intimate moments of one of Australia’s most prolific country artists.
The album opens with its namesake, immediately hitting us with Harvey’s deep, soulful, and quintessentially country voice. Family Life is a relaxed opener, which presents us with the theme that runs through the entire album. Hearing an Australian country song delivered with that typical twang is a breath of fresh air, particularly after The Great Country Songbook was criticised by former Country Music Association of Australia chief John Williamson for being too Americanised.
Family Life is awash with sentiment and nostalgia. Harvey’s voice thunders above the delicate guitar in My Little Boy, a very sweet track that uses incredibly personal anecdotes to deal with the inevitable and universal phenomenon of growing up. Harvey’s daughter Leylah also features on the album, making a charming addition to a cover of the classic Shel Silverstein song Daddy What If.
Amidst emotional reminiscence and wistfulness, Harvey scatters cheeky reflections about parenthood (Kids) and drinking with friends (One Full Bottle of Rum), while Mere Male is a three minute-long dad-joke, exploring the dorky but endearing quirks of men with just the right amount of cringe combined with laugh-out-loud humour.
But the star of the Family Life is definitely his voice. Harvey’s visceral and sensitive vocal phrasing and expression delivers stories that are as much personal as they are universally relatable. Harvey’s rich, emotive bass particularly shines in Count On Me, a simple but beautiful country tune that already sounds like an enduring classic.
Musically, Family Life offers nothing astonishingly new or innovative but that’s not the point. The album is meant to express something familiar that people from all walks of life can connect with. There are tender moments, and cheeky moments, sentimental, and apprehensive moments, but they all revolve around intimate memories and experiences that can be turned into something common or shared. Harvey croons, “family life is alright with me”, and that’s exactly how this album will be received by most people.