We're excited to announce the return of Harper Simon, who has announced the follow-up to his critically acclaimed debut with new album Division Street, produced by Tom Rothrock (Elliott Smith, Beck) via Play It Again Sam on March 25th 2013.
Harper's self-titled album saw the relative newcomer recording in Nashville with legendary producer Bob Johnston (Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen). The album was a critical success, with Uncut awarding it their 'Debut of the Month' calling it "cleverly written, elegantly played and beautifully sung pieces of pop craftsmanship" and Rolling Stone "a gorgeous collection of vintage-sounding country-folk tunes" . With Division Street, Harper dives into new musical territory accompanied by new stories.
"I see the character in the song 'Division Street' as being at a moment where life can go a couple different ways," says Simon of the title track from the new record. "I think these songs tend to be like a snapshot of a character at a pivotal moment. They could go this way or that way on the metaphorical Division Street: up or down, negative or positive, to the light or to self-destruction.
"Or they're looking back at a moment they didn't recognize as pivotal," he says. "Because we rarely do."
Division Street is a departure for Simon: it features a sound that's much more driven by electric guitars than his alt country-flavoured debut. "The mission was to make the kind of Rock 'n' Roll record I would want to listen to myself," he says. "Which sounds simple but is, in fact, incredibly difficult."
Simon co-produced Division Street with Tom Rothrock, who produced three albums for Elliott Smith (Either/Or, XO and Figure 8) and Beck's first album Mellow Gold, among others. As the team worked, the album's sound grew rougher around the edges. "I felt challenged and inspired by the idea of making a modern psychedelic folk-rock album, a Tom Rothrock production like XO, but then the Velvet Underground and the Stones kept entering in," says Simon. "Elliott Smith was very influenced by the Beatles but my guitar playing is more influenced by Keith Richards. And I kept wanting to emphasize more lo-fi elements."
Division Street was recorded with a small coterie of guest musicians-including Pete Thomas from Elvis Costello's Attractions on drums, Nikolai Fraiture from the Strokes on bass, vocals by Inara George, Feist's musical director Brian LeBarton playing synths, as well as Nate Walcott from Bright Eyes and Wilco's Mikael Jorgensen. "I'm very lucky," says Simon. "Everybody that we asked to come and guest on the record showed up."