HARPER SIMON – ‘Division Street’

harpersimonHARPER SIMON – ‘Division Street’
Being honest, the name Harper Simon is one you may not be all that familiar with.  He’s never registered on our radar before, but he does have a rather successful old man who hasn’t done too badly for himself in the music biz.  So putting aside any preconceptions, let’s lend an ear to Division Street.   It’s a very stereotypical American sound, perfect soundtrack for cruising down the highway in an open top.  But what I was drawn to in particular was the engaging lyrics throughout, creating a melancholic feeling over past relationships that immediately struck a chord.  While the notable guitar riff on ‘Bonnie Brae’ makes it one of the standout tracks on the album, it also comes down to some engagingly personal word play: “I thought our golden moment was prearranged/I tried to call you but your number had changed”.  There’s something weirdly hypnotic about Harper’s voice that blends so well with the general lo-fi, slightly psychedelic sound; made all the more clear on ‘Eternal Questions’ which for me is the highlight, reminiscent of classic Lemonheads.  It might take a few listens to realise it isn’t Evan Dando behind the mic.  Looking at who he worked with, there’s contributions from such names as Pete Thomas from Elvis Costello’s Attractions on drums and Nikolai Fraiture from The Strokes on bass.  It isn’t too slickly overproduced and is effectively low key where it needs to be; with the distortion applied to the drums on ‘Chinese Jade’ and ‘99’ adding to the overall vibe.  Taken as a whole Division Street is a slow burner, it gets better with repeat spins and while it isn’t earth shatteringly original, it’s probably one of the most engaging listens I’ve had for quite some time.  (7)
MICHAEL ALBERTO

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