Graham Reid | | <1 min read
English folk-rocker Harper – now 70 – is much eulogised by senior (male) British rock critics and has latterly been hailed by the neo-folk movement (Fleet Foxes, Devendra Banhart, Joanna Newsom etc).
Schooled equally in American acoustic blues and Anglofolk, Harper assimilated Romantic poetry and odd tunings into his style and although considered part of the British folk scene alongside Nick Drake, John Martyn, Bert Jansch and Davey Graham (all “the late”), he was a man apart for his lyrically expansive songs and often enormously busy, angular finger-picking.
He also brought in electric guitar, strings and a jazz-like direction.
This double disc collection (kick starting a reissue programme) is the ideal, if sometimes difficult, introduction to Harper for the neo-folk generation which might stumble at times over his complex guitar work (he's no thumb'n'strum player) and his angular approach to lyrics and a melody.
For example Girlie here is a four minute psychedelic journey, although is tempered by his straight bat to the traditional North Country and the delightfully gentle Davey (for Graham) and Another Day.
From politics (South Africa) to Hallucinating Light, Harper never underestimates your intelligence or concentration span.
A rare one.
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