Bonnie Brae by Harper Simon (Single)
A ‘Simon’ with the weight of expectation on his shoulders, provides another indication of the path of his own songwriting career
They say that failing to prepare is preparing to fail. And I must admit I failed to do my homework before listening to this new single by Harper Simon. Quickly putting the single on the stereo between a number of other CDs in the pile, my first thought was driving Arcade Fire-esque folk. Then, when the lead vocal started, the second thought was Paul Simon. ‘What a coincidence that they share the same surname’, I thought briefly. Not an obvious rip-off of Simon & Garfunkel, more a warm homage that could’ve been a B-side to The Boxer or a hidden bonus track on Bridge Over Troubled Water. It’s contemporary folk rock but with a genuine sense of late 60’s.
I let the whole four minutes twelve seconds draw me in, whisk me along and gently wash over me, before finally reading the press release and discovering more about this Harper guy…the son of the Paul Simon.
I know many of you reading this will assume I knew this fact, especially as many of Paul Simon’s lyrics include references to Harper, such as Graceland and St Judy’s Comet, but once the embarrassment had faded I was glad I’d taken Bonnie Brae on face-value. Without the expectation that a son of a legendary songwriter usually carries (try listening to Sean Lennon without comparing him to his father), I could enjoy this single as I would a fresh new release from a completely new artist.
To Harper’s credit, his debut album in 2009 was self-titled and self-produced, so he’s not afraid to proudly carry the weight of his surname. Follow-up album Division Street is being prepared for release in March and, if Bonnie Brae’s anything to go by, I’ll be prepared to enjoying the long-player.
Verdict: A contemporary country-folk song that drives forward, while looking back at its 60’s ancestry