On “The Real Deal,” the first track on Danny Harper’s new CD “On the Edge,” the Tremont musician decries what passes for country music on the airwaves today while proclaiming that he remains “a tried and true traditionalist.” Two songs later, he cements his allegiance to that musical tradition with the autobiographical “Country to the Core.”
“On the Edge” is an 11-song collection of Harper originals that follows his 2015 release “It’s Who I Am.” Work on the new CD began shortly after “It’s Who I Am” was released. Harper originally planned for a 2016 release.
“The feeling just never happened,” Harper said. After making some changes, the project was back on track and ready to release.
The CD, Harper said, contains his best songwriting to date and follows an especially prolific period.
“I’ve been writing like crazy,” he said. “I don’t know where it’s coming from.”
Unlike many songwriters, Harper doesn’t sit down with a guitar or at a piano when writing.
“I write usually driving in the car,” he said.
Many of his best songs, he said, come to him on Sunday mornings, usually after playing a gig the night before.
Harper didn’t say if “A Different Shade of Blue” was written on Sunday morning, but he did call the song his favorite on the new CD.
“I think it’s the best song I ever wrote,” he said. The tale of lost love is a twist for Harper because the song departs from traditional chord progressions, he said.
Fans who have followed Harper’s career should enjoy the trip down memory lane on “Country to the Core,” with its references to The Round Up, the Ellsworth bar where, in the 1980s, Harper famously was the house band, playing his own music and backing nationally known country stars. Later in the decade, he recorded two albums in Nashville. As he states in the song, he’s “still looking for a song deal, but it’s been a long, long time.”
“Truckin’ On,” an ode to a truck-driving man that came to him while driving back from southern Maine along the interstate, has been well received by fans, he said.
Other highlights include the crying-in-your-beer tale “A New Dawn,” the strident defiance of “Evil Heart,” the Jimmy Buffet-like “Drinking Mexico Dry” and the self-reflective “Where Did You Go Wrong.”
“On the Edge” was recorded at Main Street Music Studios in Brewer, engineered by Andrew Clifford and produced by Chris Fyfe. Fyfe plays keyboards on the CD and is joined by musicians that include Kevin Overlock, Dana Flood, Fred Costlow, Decran Gulesian, Brian Nadeau and Moe Schenck. Kayla Wass provides some of the background vocals.
The CD is available at Gott’s Store in Southwest Harbor, Hansen’s Outpost in Tremont, Paradis True Value in Bar Harbor and at dannyharper.com.
Harper also will perform on Dec. 15 at Hollywood Casino in Bangor and on Dec. 16 and New Year’s Eve at the Tan Turtle in Northeast Harbor.