The profound quality of Honey Harper’s cosmic country is engrossing. Full of self-reflection and insight, there is plenty of contradiction and complexity, but everything is smoothly held together in lyrics, sound and composition.
His debut album ‘Starmaker’ embraces dichotomy in new original and wonderful ways, and the Atlanta artist signifies a fresh, idiosyncratic voice with this debut album. Inspired by Joni Mitchell’s ‘Free Man in Paris’, the title refers to the stresses of having to play the game of the music industry. Written with his wife, the project deals with similar ideas about fame, fortune and failure.
Harper has explained how the songs tackle his journey. Deep soul-searching and spiritual resourcefulness play out, and the singer’s vocals come with a human, emotional fragility not often heard. Country music was a part of his childhood and explorations appear in different styles and level of intensity, representing his heritage. The sense of this being a splace where tradition clearly rules, he creates a fascinating contrast is with the injection of his subjectivity and perspective. Folky and psychedelic guitar lines form dazzling country sonics and deliver the core of Harper’s sound while the use of cutting edge technology secures relevance and modernity throughout.
The mesmeric opener ‘Green Shadows’ has what resembles robotic sounding vocals in the intro but still turns out to be country in its feel. ‘In Light of Us’ continues down a similar route with its warmth, the sounds are comforting, while a song like ‘The Day It Rained Forever’ overwhelms with its infectious pop zest.
Intimate and confiding, ‘Something Relative’ is a ballad about a friend who died of an overdose. The simply built arrangement includes strings and is a beautiful setting where emotion filters through tranquil sounds as he sings about the lost life of his friend.
Elsewhere, the more upbeat ‘Someone Else’s Dream’ delivers refined female backing vocals, and ‘Tomorrow Never Comes’ has addictive hooks and fine guitar lines. A classic rock track, it offers some direct insight into the relationship with his wife. The remarkable and imaginative ‘Strawberry Light’ sees his fear of flying addressed, as the sound of plane taking off can be heard at the start.
‘Starmaker’ is a joy from start to finish. Together, each song on this debut album supports Honey Harper’s ambition to bring his cosmic country into a wider setting and he does it with currency and aesthetics.
Words: Susan Hansen
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