Roy Harper - Man and Myth

Roy Harper - Man and Myth

Roy Harper’s voice soars straight out of his mouth on the first notes of this latest album. It is stunning. 13 years since his last studio album he returns with a completely fragile, heartfelt and honest record. This kind of return is what justifies a reputation that precedes any listen to a new record by an artist who has been active for near 50 years.

It brings to mind the long-awaited Bill Fay release from last year. This is a man in love with music, his passion and enthusiasm for his delivery and lyrics is clear as day. The young guns have much to learn if the evidence of some of the recent material by older artists is anything to go by. While often what slows down (the inspiration, the time it takes to create and release music) as songwriters grow older leads folk to assess they have lost their way or their inspiration, as it were, perhaps indicates that life itself slows down, so how can we expect an artist to approach music with the same noise and blind abandon that many youngsters tend to? When we hear that rock n roll is a young man’s game it has never seemed further from the truth.

Roy Harper delivers from the offset. The clarity of voice is astounding. It’s hard to believe the voice belongs to a man of pensionable age. In fact, it is a timely reminder that the boundaries we perceive are only in our minds, set by society and totally needless, unnecessary restrictions. The voice and the messages it contains are spellbinding here. The way the voice fills the silence is agonising in parts, but never less than thought provoking and delightful to the ear.
Time is one of this record’s grand topics. It’s not hard to see why. The epic 15-minute ‘Heaven Is Here’ is a tale of winding wonder and never outstays its welcome. Indeed it is time well spent. Once again, and as the whole record does so well it gives a sense of warmth, of wanting to embrace everyone, perhaps for a final time. Lost time, regrets, thoughts of making amends and much more, it is all here, laid bare and dissected.

The way the acoustic guitar is picked apart like a carcass in certain sections of the record is also exquisite. It all sounds like a man who can see it all now, as he steps towards the final stages of his life and career. The words ‘life is eternal’ repeat over and over in final track ‘The Exile’ and the statement is complete, the man is at peace. He has made a sparkling album, a magnificent return, and hopefully it won’t take another 13 years to follow this up.
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