Ben Harper: “I have been composing this record for most of my adult life”

“the challenge this record presented to me was completely new”

Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter Ben Harper is known for his musicianship. It’s part of his heritage; his grandparents opened The Folk Music Store in California in the 1950s where they hosted luminaries such as Sonny Terry, Doc Watson, and Brownie McGhee. When Ben worked there, he strung guitars for players like Leonard Cohen, Taj Mahal (from whom young Ben learned fingerpicking), and Jackson Browne.

With his new album, Winter Is For Lovers, Ben Harper will showcase his formative Hawaiian, classical guitar influences and his lap steel guitar talent through 15 instrumental compositions imagined as a symphony. The record explores the American Primitive movement pioneered by Leo Kottke and John Fahey, another of his grandparents’ customers.

Harper explained “it is purposefully produced to sound intimate and spare as if I am playing in your living room. Upon first listen it may be surprising or catch some people off guard because it is dramatically stripped-down in contrast to a lot of what we hear today.”

Each track is named after a place that is important to Ben:

1. Istanbul
2. Manhattan
3. Joshua Tree
4. Inland Empire
5. Harlem
6. Lebanon
7. London
8. Toronto 
9. Verona
10. Brittany 
11. Montreal 
12. Bizanet 
13. Toronto (Reprise) 
14. Islip 
15. Paris 

The deluxe heavyweight vinyl with autographed, numbered and handstamped packaging was limited to 2000 pieces and sold out within days of release. The standard vinyl and digital versions will be out later in the year.

In the meantime, check out We Get By, the album that Ben Harper produced with legend Mavis Staples.