I'll start out by declaring that I am a Nick Harper fan. Live, the man is bordering on the verge of god like status but his recorded output has been... well lets say... erratic. Seed will remain one of my favourite albums of all time no matter how many times I press replay. The reason for this is it is a honest representation of what Nick does live. With The Last Guitar we find ourselves in a metamorphic stage that has lasted 12 years and shows a man who is fighting with the rock god that has been trying to get out. Harper has always wore his heart on his sleeve, his albums having autobiographical elements to them and this one is no different. Fatherhood, death, marriage and spirituality are explored with a sense of humour that much of today's music lacks.
Album opener One Of The 38 recounts His recent accent of Everest with the Love Hope Strength foundation, a charity close to Nick's heart, and comes across like an excerpt from a Sergio Leone spaghetti western, all bluesy and angst ridden. The Story Of My Heart is a perfect example of a man being left alone in the studio with no one to tell him when to stop. Over fussy percussion and to much instrumentation detract from a song that is crying out for the simplicity of one man and his guitar. In fact the whole album cries out for the beauty of Harper's songwriting in its honest and purest form instead of the over production we find here. Harper has a voice that boasts a wide range that is equally fragile and stunningly pure, yet we don't get to see it hidden behind all the studio trickery.
This is a descent album. Not great, not bad, just descent and that is a real shame as in Nick Harper we have an artist of extraordinary talent which never quite seems to be captured on record. Freestyle stands head and shoulders above everything else on this album and gives a glimpse into what he is capable off.
I would love to have been able to tell you this album catches the sheer majesty that is Nick Harper in all his live glory... but I can't. Go buy Seed instead and please... see him live. It may just open your eyes to a man who deserves your attention.