Man & Myth

Man & Myth

by Roy Harper


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Man & Myth

Roy Harper, loved as he is by everyone from Page & Plant and Kate Bush to Joanna Newsom and Jonathan Wilson, has always existed as a shadow in the hallway of the music business, rather than a presence than its living room. He's also been misunderstood by critics more often than not. He is a poet who happens to play a very decent guitar and write fine melodies. His lyrics have never concerned themselves with fashionable topics. They have been as rooted in the past -- the historical as well as his own -- as they are in his perceived present. Man & Myth is his first new studio album since 2000's The Green Man. It was recorded in California with Wilson and in Ireland with the venerable John Fitzgerald, both of whom play on these well-populated recordings, as well. Composed of seven new songs, this is Harper, aged 72, in pristine voice, his trademark off-meter phrasing intact. Throughout, he makes no attempt to change anything about what he does. The sounds remain rooted in 1967's Sophisticated Beggar, yet move toward another frontier, albeit with elegant arrangements and crisp yet warm production. His voice and guitar are consistently atop a slew of other instruments, including Pete Townshend's guitar on two tracks. Harper's writing remains keen and opulent, his loopy phrasing and lyrics lie in their own country; they exist outside of the usual singer/songwriter tropes. Opener "The Enemy" is sparse in its charts, but rich in metaphors and metamorphoses as it details the fading notion of romanticism in the post-World War II era in the British Isles. "January Man" looks back at lost love as if it were an inevitability, as its protagonist seeks shelter inside its memory, yet is too smart to believe there is one. Adorned by strings and brass, it's Harper at his most graceful and vulnerable. "Cloud Cuckooland" is a rocker buoyed by Townshend's lead guitar (the most aggressive he's played in decades), rolling snares, and Harper's cleverly and scathingly satirizing citing the 21st century's embrace of corporate culture even as it ushers in its nadir and death. "Heaven Is Here" is the set's masterpiece. Clocking in at nearly 16 minutes, it's his look through the history of myth as a snapshot of the present. It's simultaneously elegiac, romantic, literary, and elliptical as it moves through a visionary dream -- one equally inhabited by the spirits of Dante, Virgil, Milton, and Yeats. His melismatic phrasing is as musical as the gorgeous strings, guitars, drums, and mellotrons in the sonic architecture framing his voice. Man & Myth is Harper at his best, fully in command of his vision, his curious, lovely melodic sensibility, and, of course, his poetry.

Product Details

Release Date: 10/29/2013
Label: Pias America
UPC: 0843798002968
catalogNumber: 2968
Rank: 297329

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Roy Harper   Primary Artist,Acoustic Guitar,Vocals
Andy Irvine   Bouzouki,Mandola
Pete Townshend   Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar
John Fitzgerald   Bass,Bouzouki,Guitar,Oud
Tony Franklin   Fretless Bass Guitar
Bill Shanley   Guitar,Electric Guitar
Fiona Brice   Strings,Brass
Neal Morgan   Percussion,Drums
Gillon Cameron   Violin
Matthew Gunner   Horn
Jason Borger   Piano,Hammond Organ
Richard Gowen   Percussion,Drums
James King   Alto Saxophone
Rachel Robson   Violin
Jonathan Wilson   Bass,Mandolin,Electric Guitar,Background Vocals
Bertrand Galen   Cello
Justin Grounds   Violin
Vicky Matthews   Cello
Jake Blanton   Electric Bass
Beth Symmons   Double Bass
Tom Piggott-Smith   Violin
Omar Velasco   Clavinet
George Harte   Double Bass

Technical Credits

Roy Harper   Composer,Producer
John Fitzgerald   Producer,Engineer
Dave McKean   Artwork
Fiona Brice   Arranger
Jonathan Wilson   Producer,Engineer
Justin Grounds   Arranger
Bryce Gonzales   Engineer
Phil Sayer   Cover Portrait

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