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beach full of shells
John Wesley Harding
Awake: The New Edition


(remastered reissue with bonus tracks)


“Sounding every bit like the bastard child of Elvis Costello and Aimee Mann, it's John Wesley Harding in full remastered form and glory. His quick wit, sly phrasing, and high melodies run rampant through Awake: The New Edition, which includes five extra tracks over the original, the last being a duet with Bruce Springsteen on ‘Wreck on the Highway.’ Harding is an original, through and through, in all respects. . . . He's original, perhaps even a little odd, but never off the mark. He calls it like he sees it and his fans love him for it. . . . With 19 tracks to choose from, Awake: The New Edition is a fine entry into the world of Wes. Fasten your seat belt and enjoy the ride.”
– Kelly McCartney, All Music Guide

“It's not often that one sees a reissue of a disc that's a little more than two years old, but John Wesley Harding is at least offering some tantalizing bonus cuts on this significantly expanded version of his 1998 album Awake. One new track in particular will certainly entice Bruce Springsteen collectors, who can at last obtain a flawless soundboard recording of the haunting Springsteen/Harding duet of ‘Wreck on the Highway,’ recorded live at McCabe's Guitar Shop in Santa Monica, Calif. in June, 1994. Also found among the five bonus cuts is a strong cover of Springsteen's ‘Jackson Cage.’ Those gems alone are nearly enough reason to track this down, but so too are irony-filled Harding folk/pop songs like ‘Your Ghost (Don't Scare Me No More),’ the electric twang time tale ‘Song I Wrote Myself in the Future,’ and the death-is-inevitable-so-lighten-up saga, ‘Burn.’ (3 stars)"
– Kevin O’Hare, Newhouse News Service syndicate

"With the funky drum breaks in 'Your Ghost (Don't Scare Me No More),' the lighter-and-match-strike percussion loop of 'Burn' and the wide variety of instrumentation – from noisier guitars to ghostly Dr. Dre-style synths to telephone noises to e-bows, moogs and mellotron – it would be easy to ignore the fact that Harding is more about the song than the style. Songs like 'Window Seat' – wherein an entire life is recounted, from cradle to grave, on an airplane, 'Miss Fortune' – about an orphan boy rescued by a tycoon and raised as a girl, 'I'm Staying Here (And I'm Not Buying a Gun)' – detailing the dogged determination to survive against the circumstances and 'You So&So' – regarding the stranger complexities of a life in love, are typical of Harding's unrelentless pursuit of excellence in songcraft. The presence of such pop luminaries as Chris Von Sneidern, Chuck (Green On Red) Prophet, Kurt (Fastbacks/Young Fresh Fellows) Bloch, Robert (Television) Lloyd, Scott (Minus 5/Young Fresh Fellows) McCaughey marks awake as an album of distinctive then and now. The extra tracks on this new edition strip away the additional sonic qualities found on awake proper to reveal tender and fragile acoustic vignettes. Songs like the previously 'hidden' 'Wooden Overcoat,' the Bruce Springsteen-penned 'Jackson Cage', the rockabilly 'Punch 'n' Judy' and the 'live' duet with Springsteen on 'Wreck on the Highway' showcase Harding's folk roots to good effect. . . If you missed out on this first time out, do not make the same mistake twice."
– Kevin Mathews, PopMatters

"This honest intricate chamber-piece shows the boy maturing into a fine artist."
Mojo, UK

“Startling . . . A top notch pop album”
 – San Francisco Chronicle

"Shows him to be one of the finest and most unfairly overlooked artists of the 90s."
Chicago Tribune