Aussie plays the blues
Reviewed September 2010
Blind Pig Records: 2010
To hear sound clips or learn more about this release, Turbula recommends viewing its Amazon.com entry.
Originally from England, most of Peter Harper's musical development happened after he moved to Australia at age 11. The music he started playing then was blues-based rock, and he started recording with groups and on his own in the mid-'90s.
Since moving to the U.S., the singer/harp specialist has continued to record discs as a solo artist, with a sound that adds some world music flair to his blues by featuring didgeridoo a traditional Down Under drone wind instrument that sounds variously like a Jew's harp and a buzzing hive, or both. Performing as usual with the moniker Harper, the latest disc, "Stand Together," features the namesake, his solid road band and 12 of his original songs.
Harper is a good blues belter, and a very good harpist. "We Stand Together" uses the powerful bottom of the didgeridoo, laying a nice soul/blues over the top, and lets the drone come back in the spaces instead of solos; it is different. A clear shot at radio play, "Love=Peace=Freedom," takes a bass/percussion riff that sounds like something on the "Superfly" soundtrack and melds on a catchy little melody with a feel-good lyrical message. The next track, "You Know What You Got," is musically very familiar to "Love," with the drone mixing with a Sly Stone vibe and R&B tune, with a hot harp solo.
"No Problem", "Weaker Man" and a couple of the other tunes late on the disc feature Harper's harmonica he's a talent; think Blues Traveler's John Popper if the latter were to slow down some of his speed-lick mania for half of his solos but still keep the fire there. In fact, two of the most satisfying things about this disc are the fact that it isn't wall-to-wall harp, and that a guy as good as Harper mixes in restraint with his flash.
"Stand Together" is a good dose of blues, with a different spin. Harper packs in plenty of good harp and blues energy, and there are no clunkers here.
Review by Frank Kocher, a longtime San Diego resident, musician, music collector and frequent contributor to The San Diego Troubadour.