"Bob Dylan is my father, Joan Baez is my mother"
And I'm their bastard son."
John Wesley Harding, "Bastard Son"
While English singer-songwriter-novelist John Wesley Harding ever plays down his Bob Dylan affection, after all he did take his stage name from Dylan's 1968 album, his critics have charged that he's so obsessed with Elvis Costello that he should have called himself Myaim Istrue. Well Wes' latest album The Sound of His Own Voice (Yep Roc, 2011), recorded with backing assistance from the Decemberists, Peter Buck, Rosanne Cash amongst others, doesn't so much end the debate on his influences, as make the entire question irrelevant. On this album, Harding's written and recorded what may be the cleverest, most tuneful batch of songs songs in a long, clever and tuneful career. Whether you hear strains of R.E.M., John Prine, James Taylor, Leonard Cohen, Nick Lowe, Billy Bragg, Robyn Hitchcock or even Costello and Dylan here, songs like "There's A Starbucks Where the Starbucks Used To Be" or "Sing Your Own Song" are bursting with a joyous originality all their own.
And check out this radio interview with Wes done by The Pop Culturalist.