As soon as you hear the opening notes of “Rise Up,” the title song of Harper and the Midwest Kind’s new release 11, you will know it is something unique. After all, how many roots anthems start out with the didgeridoo? The album is coming out on February 11th.
Australian-born Peter Harper loves to mix blues and world music, and with his evocative voice, mastery of the didgeridoo as well as the harmonica, and great American band, he creates wonderful blends. Rise Up is an uplifting call to make our lives better.
On including the didgeridoo on his albums, Harper said on his website, “It is a sound I grew up with, so it seemed natural to add it to my songwriting … When I added the didgeridoo to the more traditional blues instruments, it worked. The deep woody qualities and its haunting drone seemed to enhance the emotional quality of my stories. The didgeridoo is a spiritual and healing instrument, and it seemed blues music accepted it with open arms
Harper lives in the American Midwest now with his band, Bobbi Llewellyn (backing vocals, percussion), Austin Johnson (guitar), Lee Lewis (bass, backing vocals) and Reggie Wilson (drums.) Wait until you hear this amazing album!
After the eye-opening “Rise Up,” the album offers 9 more refreshing and unique originals. “Blues I Can’t Use,” is about trying to deal with the news of the day. “I Still Got You, is a song about hanging on to love in tough times, with a ZZ Top sort of vibe and Harper’s fabulous harmonica.
“Hateful” starts out with almost animalistic sounds from the didgeridoo and distorted voices before going into a lyrical analysis of hatefulness. Next, “Heavy Horses” is a duet between Harper and Bobbi Llewellyn and it is stunning. Their voices blend so well against the rhythmic guitar and the punctuation of the harmonica.
“Talk to Me” is a rather slow rocker, punctuated by the background vocals and some great percussion and harmonica while “Worlds Insane” takes us back to the need for change, a look at today’s chaos but a real hope for the near future.
“Welcome Home” starts with strong percussion and that joyful harp as Harper and the band welcomes the return of a friend, while Harper’s voice and harp turn melancholy on “Let You Go.”
The album ends with the meditative “Peaceful,” which reminds me of Crosby, Stills, and Nash back in the day.
As a whole, this is a magnificent, deeply evocative album by a great singer-songwriter and his fantastic band. I give it the highest marks.