Nick Harper

Double Life

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Nick Harper is one of the most accomplished acoustic guitar players performing, but only a relative few critics and fans in the United Kingdom know it. Double Life affirms their endorsement and allows those in North America to finally hear his amazing live prowess. While slim on some earlier gems, this show is otherwise a veritable greatest-hits package, except that all of the songs are much better than their studio counterparts. While Harper's voice, lyrics, and between-song banter are a slight notch below father Roy's in his prime, his playing is miles ahead. He can shift from the delicate fingerpicking of "The Verse Time Forgot" to the aggressive sonic assault of "Headless" without it seeming like forced dynamics. It seems that the elder Harper's association with Led Zeppelin rubbed off on Nick, as their influence is heard all over this release. "Guitarman" has to be the best marriage of Elvis and Zeppelin since Dread Zeppelin's "Heartbreaker (At the End of Lonely Street)," and is indicative of a sense of humor that was many times missing from both Roy Harper and Led Zeppelin's work. The most representative song here is "Building Our Own Temple," which builds in intensity and again quotes Zeppelin's "Friends," as well as Public Enemy, along the way. It works, and shows Harper's main talent outside of his fret work is his ability to assimilate bits of other songs into his own and make it sound fresh. Much like his father, Nick Harper is best heard in the live setting and Double Life is therefore easily his best work.

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