Day by Day
(Blind Pig, 2007)

If Day by Day accurately reflect Harper's global perspective, I'm not sure I'd like to live in his world. I very much enjoy visiting it, however. There's a menace in Harper's music, an edge of danger that, if it isn't physical, certainly lives in the psyche.

Much of it comes from his use of the didgeridoo. Harper (full name Peter Harper) is a native of Australia. A master of the blues harp, he was once touring the States when he met Native American musician Dan Running Bear, a meeting that led him to explore his own native musical heritage. The result was that he added aboriginal rhythms to his music and learned to play the didgeridoo, which he also added. As he says, "The deep woody qualities and its haunting drone seemed to enhance the emotional quality of my stories." It certainly did. The addition of the instrument to the traditional blues band lineup might sound odd, but on listening, it sounds as natural as rain on a spring day.

Blend it with the growling guitars, Harper's harp and his lyrics and you've got a depth of feeling and thought that is unusual in today's music. Harper's narrators are people who have to keep looking over their shoulders; his lyrics contain such statements as "It's going to fall down on you," "I sure clould use somebody help" and "you better watch your back." His vocals are often howls of pain.

Harper's music is primal. It goes way inside, creating honest, deeply felt emotions. It is joyful and painful at the same time.

And another thing -- Harper's music is is essential. It should be widely heard.

review by
Michael Scott Cain

16 June 2007

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