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Harper Simon - Harper Simon

  by Lisa Torem

published: 30 / 5 / 2010

Harper Simon - Harper Simon
Label: Play It Again Sam
Format: CD


Magical and brilliant self-titled debut album from Harper Simon, the son of Paul Simon

“She is juniper and roses/She is amethyst and pearl/And though she makes her home in Hollywood/She’s really just a Berkeley girl.” Harper Simon’s translucent character sketch, ‘Berkeley Girl,’ which frames delicate lyrics and melody-driven finger-picking is the 21st Century’s ‘Scarborough Fair’. But, brace yourself for this self-titled album’s other captivating studies. The vision of this Californian singer-songwriter was to “blend the great session players from the 60s” with current musical friends. Consequently, there was much collaboration on this album. But, this beauty was completely his own creation. ‘Shooting Star’ with its grounded thrush of “the northern winds have found their home/high above the timerberline” and ‘Cactus Flower King’, with more tranquil epiphanies, are also solo compositions and after the first listen, it becomes clear that Harper Simon has magically carved his name on the indelible songwriter tree of life. Simon also collaborates with his father Paul Simon and Carrie Fisher on the reflective‘The Shine’ and the tongue-in-cheek, but bittersweet ‘Ha Ha’ with which Petra Haden assists. Throughout the album, a breathtaking sense of place is firmly established: “One time I laughed all the way from Flagstaff, Arizona to Baton Rouge/Left a trail of one-liners in truck stops and diners….” 'Tennessee,' co-written by both Simons, is comical and inviting. The kicker is “I was born in New York City/But my mom’s from Tennessee.” Columbia Records Bob Johnston who produced ‘Nashville Skyline’ lends a truculent hand, as does Sean Lennon on 'Celeste', bassist Mike Leech, who performed on Elvis Presley's ‘Suspicious Minds’ and pianist Hargus “Pig” Robbins who jazzed up Patsy Cline’s ‘Walkin’ After Midnight’. Simon’s voice is tailor-made for the tunes, too. He adds levity and sombre timbre when required. But, the most impressive characteristic of this debut is that it covers a wide range of styles; country, blues, folk and eventraditional – the Shaker hymn ‘All To God’ – for instance, without sounding a foghorn. Harper Simon’s brilliant debut makes listening a down-right joy.

Track Listing:-
1 All To God
2 Wishes And Stars
3 The Audit
4 Shooting Star
5 Tennessee
6 Ha Ha
7 Cactus Flower Rag
8 All I Have Are Memories
9 The Shine
10 Berkeley Girl

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