Jim Pharis, High Mileage

by Donald Rumpert

Old Jalopy or old faithful? Hot rod, probably not.  Pharis is that authentic, dependable acoustic player that melds a helping of acoustic blues covers with originals.  A solid fingerpicking guitarist, his playing is unpretentious and solid.  With High Mileage he takes his journey front and center to listeners with a set of herculean performances.

A sparse and unfurled approach with a country-blues guitar canvas, Pharis cohesively and effortlessly stylizes each tune with his two hands and fingers, creating a joyful sound that is inviting and engaging. Occasionally accompanied by A.J. Primeaux with harmonica colorizations from time to time, the addition of Primeaux creates a nice sonic refresher. Overall, High Mileage is a solo effort as Pharis effortlessly winds his way through the title track with a light and buoyant approach.   An excogitate look at mortality in a reflective “Drift Away” is done tastefully and with honesty.  While “5 Alarm Fire” has a slow and measured style, “Mule” has more upbeat style with a downhome traveling rhythm.  A tasteful rendition of Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s “Up Above My Head” is jubilant, a worthy addition on High Mileage.

A nice combination of originals and covers, overall High Mileage is a tastefully conceived showcase of Pharis’ adroit playing, that is a clean and pristine approach towards a fingerpicking style, with a worn and weathered voice, his honest and untethered approach is nuanced and sincere.   High Mileage won’t leave you stranded and won’t disappoint.  A downhome appeal from an agile guitarist with a folksy voice presenting something real and organic for listeners to enjoy.

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