Written By: Darwin Green
Label: Vagrant/Tulsi – Rating:
Harper Simon seems to possess a rare quality that most other offspring of famous musicians don’t possess: he seems able not only to glean the best things of his father’s talent but expands on it.
Rather than shying away from the style of his father, Simon undoubtedly embraces it. Everything from the vocals and lyrics to most of the musical arrangements come so close to Paul Simon’s that it’s obvious who inspired Harper’s musical career and creativity the most, and, by far, it benefits him to no end.
As a child who played guitar at the tender age of 12 on the Graceland tour it makes perfect sense. Any musician with that sort of exposure would come away with strong elements and influence from it. He takes the dippy and silly elements of his father in “Ha Ha,” the transcendent in “Berkeley Girl” (with lyrics like “she is crinoline and satin/she is leopard skin and lace/hard to believe that she believed in me/when I was such a hopeless case,” how could one not compare him to Paul Simon), and the angelic in “All to God.” The interesting thing here is not the similarities, but the differences between the two.
With his reverential, folky flow of pop hooks and structure, Harper also adds a little indie, a little electronica, and some alt-country. It’s the alt-country element that stands out second to the folk strain used by the son from his father. In “All to God” Harper takes what is essentially his father’s song and converts it into a rock song with electronica flourishes. It makes for an interesting blend of rock history and revival, though Harper makes it unique to himself, and his personality shines through with each track in the bright pathway that his father set up for him.