Stand Together

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British-born but raised in Australia since the age of ten, blues vocalist and harmonica wizard Peter D. Harper has been regarded as one of the very best on his instrument, slashing and dashing across American bar and festival dates in the decade of the 2000s while based in metro Detroit. His soulful voice is much more refined than raw, charming in many ways but still tough as nails, and sounds much more like a true singer of songs relating to the mean streets of the big city and being on the road. Simply Harper (as he is known professionally) plays the didgeridoo on many of these tracks, and though one might think that wouldn't work, it does, in tandem with his singing or his biting, strong, harmonica playing. He's also come into his own as a songwriter on this, his fourth album overall and third for the Blind Pig label. Closer to rock than purist or even contemporary blues, songs like "I Never Want" or "We Stand Together" also have a personal, uniting vibe, while "You Know What You Got" is as honest and real as it gets. In the blues vein, Harper can jam and get down as evidenced by "No Problem," as he is strapped in with electric guitarist Gregg Leonard on a deeper blues, while there's much overdubbing on the cautionary tale "Weaker Man," a compelling tune with hit potential. Harper does tap on New Orleans voodoo shuffle à la Charlie Musselwhite, organ combo sounds via the fine keyboardist Kurt Wolak, some lighter pop-oriented songs, and a waltz ballad where Wolak plays piano. The first half of this CD is predictable on every other track, but gets broader as it goes on, assuring you that Harper is far from finished in creating a lasting, original effort somewhere down the road. For now this is just fine.

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