Sarah McQuaid – The Sun Goes On Rising

Sarah ends her series of singles from the forthcoming album The St. Buryan Sessions with a lovely, blues-y song co-written with Gerry O’Beirne a decade or so ago, and previously recorded on the excellent 2012 album The Plum Tree And The Rose. 

To my ear this version seems a little slower than the previous version, and benefits from the ambience of the venue and perhaps an indefinable maturity of delivery. But judge for yourselves: the video of the single is on YouTube here, while the earlier album and 3-track single (and much else, including the previous singles from the St. Buryan album) can be found on Sarah’s Bandcamp page.

The St. Buryan’s Sessions album is due for release on October 15th 2021: while there are no plans to release any more singles from it, but there may be more videos (Sarah’s YouTube channel is here). I don’t mind either way: I have a copy of the album to look forward to!

David Harley


‘Ten Percent Blues’ Album

Now available (and listenable) at Bandcamp.

1. Make It Pay 01:30
2. Butterfly (Over The Hill) 03:43
3. The Road 03:13
4. Anywhere 03:12
5. Ten Percent Blues 03:42
6. Now How Long 03:45
7. Blues For Davy 02:01
8. Baby What A Groove 02:52
9. Another Bangor Day 04:12
10. Long Cigarettes, Cheap Red Wine 04:22
11. Moonstruck 01:30
12. Angel [demo version] 02:15
13. East River 03:07
14. Empty Sunday [demo version] 02:09

You might regard this album title as an over-extended pun. Not only does it include more blues/American-influenced material than my previous albums (though I’m not sure how to quantify the exact percentage), but it also draws some inspiration (if that’s the right word) from life on the road. Though in fact my own time as a professional musician was extremely short, and no agent was getting very fat on ten percent of my income at that time. And at this time of my life, I don’t think I’ll be spending much time playing live again, let alone living in a tour bus.

If I ever belonged to a particular ‘school’ of songwriter, it was probably that very English group that included people like Bill Caddick, Peter Bond, Bernie Parry et al. (Whatever happened to Al?) Still, looking back (as I have been a lot recently) to the songs I’ve written in the last 50-60 years, I suspect that there is enough material there for at least one more album with a fair amount of Americana influence.

Released May 19, 2021

All songs, guitars and vocals by David A. Harley

(c) all rights reserved

The Road [demo]

Early version of a song from the projected album ‘Ten Percent Blues’. And no, it’s not autobiographical: my own short spell on the road ended in the 70s, and I’ve no particular wish to resume that particular phase of my career at my age.

Words and music (c) David A. Harley

It’s late and the driver has nothing to say
One more stop ahead on an endless highway
One more place to be, and nowhere to stay
For the road was the ruin of me

The tour bus, the tranny, the fluffed chords of fame
The days in the airport, the runaway train
You don’t care for my songs and you don’t know my name
For the road was the ruin of me

I was never a drifter, I’d no urge to roam
But somehow the tour bus became my home
The scenery fades and the scene is long gone
And the road was the ruin of me

The smoke and the pipe dream, the whisky, the beer
There’s nothing to treasure and nothing to fear
There’s no one here now to send out for some gear
And the road was the ruin of me

The call of the wild, and the song of the road
The end of the game and the call of the void
There’s no one to meet and there’s nowhere to hide
The road was the ruin of me

The heroes and villains, the bait and the switch
The hole in my sock and the travelling itch
I’ll never be famous, I’ll never be rich
For the road was the ruin of me

I drank much too deep at the wishing well
I knew what I wanted but never could tell
Now I’ve only these dreams and these few words to sell
For the road was the ruin of me

All that I’ve learned is how little I know
All I’ve come home to is a new place to go
And it’s never a place that I wanted to be
For the road was the ruin of me

New Paul Cowley CD

I’m actually taking a break from music reviewing right now. However, it seems a pity not to mention good music when it comes my way:  hence my mini-review of Sarah McQuaid’s current releases – Sarah McQuaid – The St. Buryan Sessions.

And now I’ve been lucky enough to get a sneak preview of Paul Cowley’s upcoming CD Long Time Comin’, a collection of his own blues-soaked songs plus his versions of songs by Blind Boy Fuller (‘Lost Lover Blues’, a favourite of mine since the 60s), Charlie Patton, Mississippi John Hurt, Ray Charles and Blind Willie McTell. It’s another fine set of accomplished but unpretentious country blues from someone who has a deep knowledge and love of the genre. Paul’s web site is here, and he’s been reviewed several times (twice by me, with enthusiasm!) on And here’s a video by way of a taster: ‘Don’t Need Too Much‘.

David Harley

The Game of London (album)

It seems perverse to have released an album on Bandcamp and not even mention it here, though I did put up a demo of the title track a while back. So here’s a belated link to the album and a terse rundown of the tracks. I really ought to get around to promoting this…

1. The Miles Between (the City and the Heart)
2. The Game of London
3. Coasting 2023
4. Same Old Same Old
5. Walls
6. 17-Year Itch
7. London 1983 (Heatwave)
8. Cooling Out 02:52
9. Paper City 05:25
10. The Weekends (are the Worst)
11. Diving Butterfly (Air and Slip Jig)
12. Death of a Marriage
13. Silk and Steel
14. Coasting 1983

‘London 1983’ (the song formerly known as ‘Heatwave’) was recorded at Hallmark Studios W1, and features James Bolam on piano.

Tracks 9 and 11-14 were recorded at Centre Sound, Camden. ‘Diving Butterfly’ features Peter Wilkes on fiddle and Gail Williams on bodhrán.

All vocals and all other instruments are me.

I’ll put up a page with links to my other recordings Real Soon Now.

David Harley




Sarah McQuaid – The St. Buryan Sessions

As one of the hardest-working musicians on the scene, Sarah McQuaid was hit hard by the restrictions imposed by Covid-19 lockdown. While many artists have tried to keep the flame alive by live-streaming, Sarah opted instead to crowd-fund an album of live tracks taken from video performances recorded last summer at the Cornish church of St. Buryan. The album will be released later in 2021, but in the meantime it has been supported by a series of singles taken from the album, supported in turn by the video performances of those songs. Martin Stansbury’s sympathetic production/engineering, the lovely medieval venue, and Sarah’s own musicianship more than make up for the absence of a live audience.

The first single was the lovely song ‘The Silence Above Us’ (Shovel And A Spade Records SAASDS2101): though I already knew it from her 2018 album If We Dig Any Deeper It Could Get Dangerous, it’s been revisiting my ears at frequent intervals since. I reviewed it for here.

‘Charlie’s Gone Home’ (Shovel And A Spade Records SAASDS2102) and ‘The Day Of Wrath, That Day’ (Shovel And A Spade Records SAASDS2103) were both reviewed here.

My review of the next single ‘Sweetness & Pain’ (Shovel And A Spade Records SAASDS2104) was featured here, and a stunning unaccompanied performance it is, too. (The video, not my review.)

Two more singles were announced in April:  ‘Time To Love’, a co-write with Irish singer/songwriter Gerry O’Beirne: you can find the video on Sarah’s  YouTube channel – go on, you know you want to!    The sixth single, a delightful piano/vocal version of Michael Chapman’s ‘Rabbit Hills’  premieres on YouTube on May 14th.

The full album is due for release on October 15th 2021, and there’ll be more singles and videos throughout the year. I can’t wait for the next one. 🙂

David Harley